The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. This year it should be all right. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis." he said. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. "All right. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. he was curiously like his brother Joe. Mrs. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. Marjory. Marjory gave tongue again. "sorry I'm late. you little beast. I bet he does. His figure was thin and wiry. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail." "Considering there are eight old colours left. but preferred him at a distance. Marjory. "I bet he gets in before you. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. . That's one comfort. who had shown signs of finishing it. Bob disdained to reply." The aspersion stung Marjory." said Bob loftily. and the missing member of the family appeared. if he sweats. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers." she said." she said. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. "Hullo. Mike was her special ally. His third remark was of a practical nature." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. He might get his third. He was fond of him in the abstract." Bob was in Donaldson's. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. anyway. In face. The door opened." was his reference to the sponge incident. Last year he had been tried once or twice. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's." she muttered truculently through it. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. He was a sound bat." This was mere stereo. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. "Anyhow. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. Jackson intervened. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body." "We aren't in the same house. "Go on with your breakfast.

suddenly drew a long breath."I say. So was father. Joe's style. Jackson believed in private coaching. sound article. Whereat Gladys Maud. as follows: "Mike Wryky. like Mike. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. Saunders. in six-eight time. "Mike. but the style was there already. "All the boys were there. put a green baize cloth over that kid. you're going to Wrykyn. aged three. Mike was his special favourite." "Is he. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus." From Phyllis." shouted Marjory. There was nothing the matter with Bob. assisted by the gardener's boy. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. In Bob he would turn out a good." From Ella. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. the professional. you know. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term." "Oh. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. It was a great moment. Saunders. But he was not a cricket genius. "Good. somebody. you're going to Wrykyn next term. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke." she said." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . Mike looked round the table. Gladys Maud Evangeline. with improvements. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. Mr. the eldest of the family. "Mike. obliged with a solo of her own composition. Mike Wryky. Mike put on his pads. what's under that dish?" "Mike. The strength could only come with years. and every spring since Joe. "I say. "Mike. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. ages ago." groaned Bob. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so." began Mr. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. was engaged in putting up the net. and squealed deafeningly for more milk." he said.

miss. Master Mike? Play. it was all there. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt." said the professional. it's this way. we'll hope for the best. Joe's got. isn't he? He's better than Bob. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. a sort of pageant. "Next term!" he said. miss. but I meant next term. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. miss. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. and that's where the runs come in. Ready. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. and it stands to reason they're stronger. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. you see. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. Saunders? He's awfully good. Don't you think he might. you see. in a manner of speaking."School team. "Well. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. Going to a public school." Saunders looked a little doubtful." As Saunders had said. perhaps. Still. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. only all I say is don't count on it. It's quite likely that it will. every bit." Marjory sat down again beside the net. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. especially at ." "Yes. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. The whole thing is. too. Saunders. I was only saying don't count on it. Saunders?" she asked." "Ah. with Master Mike. and nineteen perhaps. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. and watched more hopefully. he was playing more strongly than usual. It would be a record if he did. as she returned the ball. To-day. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. "He hit that hard enough." "But Mike's jolly strong. I'm not saying it mightn't be. What are they like?" "Well. miss. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. miss. You know these school professionals." "No. I don't. There's a young gentleman. That's what he'll be playing for. didn't he. miss. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. It's all there. He's got as much style as Mr.

was on the verge of the first eleven. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. The train gathered speed. He wore a bowler hat. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. the train drew up at a small station. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. He was excited. Bob. While he was engaged on these reflections. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. Bob. and Mrs. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. however. his magazines. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. It might be true that some day he would play for England. The latter were not numerous. there was Bob. According to Bob they had no earthly. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. the village idiot. by all accounts. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. Donaldson's. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. The air was full of last messages. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. He had a sharp face. Gladys Maud cried. Meanwhile. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. in time to come down with a handsome tip). nor profound. and carried a small . and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. On the other hand. though evidently some years older. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. but then Bob only recognised one house. is no great hardship. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that.the beginning of the summer term. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. in his opinion. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. and now the thing had come about. And as Marjory. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. Phyllis. was to board the train at East Wobsley. Mr. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. with rather a prominent nose. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. and he was nothing special. Mothers. and his reflections. smiling vaguely. frankly bored with the whole business. He was alone in the carriage.

. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. and at the next stop got out. thought Mike. "Good business. He did not like the looks of him particularly." "Because. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment." "Here you are. after all." "No chance of that. Mike acted from the best motives. sir. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. but. stared at Mike again. And here. I regret to say. He realised in an instant what had happened. which is always fatal. and took the seat opposite to Mike. and finally sat down. you know. instead. and wondered if he wanted anything. If he wanted a magazine. sir. the bag had better be returned at once. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. The trainwas already moving quite fast. let him ask for it. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. he seemed to carry enough side for three. Judging by appearances. lying snugly in the rack. Besides. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window." "Thank you. He was only travelling a short way." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag.portmanteau. The fellow had forgotten his bag. got up and looked through the open window. but. He opened the door. sir. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. The other made no overtures. then. Anyhow. "Porter. He seemed about to make some remark." said Mike to himself. That explained his magazineless condition.

" The situation was becoming difficult. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. which did not occur for a good many miles. "I thought you'd got out there for good. and the other jumped into the carriage. What you want is a frightful kicking. "There's nothing to laugh at. or what?" "No. I say. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. who happened to be in the line of fire. "Then." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station.(Porter Robinson. "Hullo. Then it ceased abruptly. dash it." "It wasn't that. ." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. escaped with a flesh wound." The guard blew his whistle. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. and. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders. though not intentionally so." he shouted. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. "The fact is. and said as much." said the stranger." said Mike hurriedly. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow." Against his will. It hit a porter." said Mike. "I'm awfully sorry.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. "I chucked it out. This was one of them. The head was surmounted by a bowler." said Mike. "Have you changed carriages. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. you little beast. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. Mike grinned at the recollection. looking out of the window. "Don't _grin_." explained Mike. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway.

It's bound to turn up some time. He's in your house. Good cricketer and footballer. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. "Oh." agreed Firby-Smith. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. all the same. It's just the sort . "It must be pretty rotten for him. and it's at a station miles back. He took up his magazine again. though not aggressive. it's a bit thick. They'll send it on by the next train. His eye fell upon Mike's companion."Hullo. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. are you in Wain's?" he said. I say." said Bob." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. listening the while. I mean. Gazeka?" "Yes." said Bob." "You're a bit of a rotter." "Frightful nuisance. "I say. Bob." "Oh." said Mike. He grinned again. "I swear. what happened was this. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. "Hullo. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. "I've made rather an ass of myself. By the way. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. Gazeka!" he exclaimed." "Oh. rather lucky you've met. there you are. Lots of things in it I wanted. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves." "Naturally. He realised that school politics were being talked." "Frightful." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. and yet they have to be together. then it's certain to be all right. if I were in Wyatt's place. Mike. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. it's all right. and all that sort of thing. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. never mind. holidays as well as term. thinking he'd got out. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. only he hadn't really." "I mean. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. They were discussing Wain's now. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. "He and Wain never get on very well. I should rot about like anything. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt.

There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. Crossing the square was a short. and. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. all more or less straight." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. See you later." he said. Mike started out boldly.of life he'll hate most. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. I think you'd better nip up to the school. "Heaps of them must come by this line." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. To the man who knows. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. and looked about him. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. So long. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. Silly idea. on alighting. it is simplicity itself. leaving him to find his way for himself. Probably Wain will want to see you. and lost his way. It was Wrykyn at last." he said. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. and so on. Mike. Mike made for him. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. Hullo. and it's the only Christian train they run. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom." he concluded airily. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. Go straight on." Mike looked out of the window." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. here we are. Go in which direction he would. which is your dorm. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. They'll send your luggage on later." Bob looked at Mike. . he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. a blue blazer. and a straw hat with a coloured band. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. But here they were alone. and tell you all about things. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. Plainly a Wrykynian. has no perplexities. with a happy inspiration.

with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. "Pity. you know." said the stranger." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. "How many?" "Seven altogether. "That's pretty useful." said the other." "Oh. "It was only against kids. this is fame. you're going to the school. you know. then?" asked Mike. it was really awfully rotten bowling. There's no close season for me. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. How did you know my name." he said." said Mike. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. please. are you Wyatt. Only a private school. He's in Donaldson's. You can't quite raise a team. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. shuffling. He had a pleasant. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. "Hullo. So you're the newest make of Jackson." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." "Are you there." said Mike. He felt that they saw the humour in things. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. You know." said Mike. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. "You look rather lost. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. And . latest model. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. Any more centuries?" "Yes. A stout fellow. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. "Oh."Can you tell me the way to the school." added Mike modestly." said Mike awkwardly." "I know. square-jawed face.

everything. "I say." said Mike. I believe. cut out of the hill. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. answering for himself. We shall want some batting in the house this term." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's." "Oh. That's his. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term." "All the same. Look here." said Wyatt." "Yes. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. but that's his misfortune. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. "That's Wain's. it's jolly big. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. We all have our troubles. I know. Let's go in here. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. too." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. Everything looked so big--the buildings. At Emsworth. You come along. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. Mike followed his finger. though no games were played on it. a beautiful piece of turf. thanks awfully. The next terrace was the biggest of all. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer." said Mike cautiously. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. which gave me a bit of an advantage. And my pater always has a pro.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. They skirted the cricket field. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. "He's all right. and took in the size of his new home." said Mike. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. the grounds. He felt out of the picture. He's head of Wain's. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. where. down in the Easter holidays. He was glad that he had met Wyatt." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school." he said." said Wyatt. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. I was just going to have some tea. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. At the top of the hill came the school. a shade too narrow .

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

Silence. please. and if it comes before we are prepared for it.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. He was older than the average new boy. It did not make him conceited. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. "Oh. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. "Sugar?" asked Bob. "Oh. and his batting was undeniable. There is nothing more heady than success. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. Bob was changing into his cricket things." said Mike. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. at school. "Well." . but Bob did not know this. to give him good advice. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. if only for one performance. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. Beyond asking him occasionally. when they met. all right"). His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders." said Mike. Mike arrived. Mike had skipped these years. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. all right. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. "Thanks. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. it is apt to throw us off our balance. "How many lumps?" "Two. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. and his conscience smote him. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. He only knew that he had received a letter from home." "Cake?" "Thanks. As a rule.

" he said. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. "I can look after myself all right. "You've been all right up to now. Jackson. while Bob. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake." said Mike cautiously. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. "Look here." said Bob." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal." Mike's feelings were too deep for words." said Bob. I'm not saying a word against you so far. "Oh. outraged. Bob pulled himself together. I'm not saying anything against you so far. I should take care what . Look after him! Him!! M. you've got on so well at cricket. Only you see what I mean. "He needn't trouble. "Like him?" "Yes. "What!" said Mike. making things worse." he said. in the third and so on." he said at length. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. and spoke crushingly." said Bob. "It's only this. "He said he'd look after you. of course. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. filled his cup. What I mean to say is. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. "Yes. "You know. You know.Silence." added Bob." "What do you mean?" said Mike. thanks. if you don't watch yourself. Mike. "I shouldn't--I mean." said Mike. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading.

"I promised I would. A good innings at the third eleven net. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. "What rot!" said Mike. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned." Mike shuffled." he said. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you.") "Come up to my study. He doesn't care a hang what he does. though. Don't cheek your . You'd better be going and changing. all spectacles and front teeth. He's that sort of chap. He's never been dropped on yet. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. Stick on here a bit. so said're doing with Wyatt. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. if you want any more tea. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. met Mike at the door of Wain's. He felt very sore against Bob. "All right. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. he's an awfully good chap." "What do you mean?" "Well. (Mike disliked being called "young man. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. I mean. "Ah. I've got to be off myself. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. But don't let him drag you into anything. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. spoke again. Not that he would try to." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. young man. "I've been hearing all about you. I'm going over to the nets. young man." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. of course. Don't make a frightful row in the house." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. it doesn't matter much for him. Thing is. But don't you go doing it. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. I wanted to see you." said the Gazeka. That youth." Mike followed him in silence to his study. because he's leaving at the end of the term. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after.

He would have given much to be with him. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. Overcoming this feeling. wriggled out. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. "No. "Is that you. Anyhow. and the second time he gave up the struggle. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes." "Are you going out?" "I am. would just have suited Mike's mood." And Wyatt." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. The room was almost light." said Wyatt. He got out of bed and went to the window. That's all. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. too. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. So long. with or without an air-pistol." "I say. by a slight sound. and up to his dormitory to change." said Wyatt. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. you stay where you are. He opened his eyes. you can't. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark.elders and betters. He sat up in bed. "When I'm caught. if he had been at home. he walked out of the room. but he . and hitting it into space every time. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. as I'm morally certain to be some day. "Hullo. increased." he said. Like Eric. not with shame and remorse. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. I shall be deadly. but with rage and all that sort of thing. It was a lovely night. Wash. Mustn't miss a chance like this. but it was not so easy to do it. just the sort of night on which. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. Specially as there's a good moon. You'll find that useful when the time comes. or night rather. he burned. Cut along. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. of wanting to do something actively illegal. but he had never felt wider awake.

Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. _". but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. and there was an end of it. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. Good gracious_ (sang Mr." And. As it swished into the glass. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. and an apple. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. perhaps. wound the machine up. Down the stairs. feeling a new man. The next moment. All thought of risk left him. Field actually did so. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. There were the remains of supper on the table. Field). "Who is there?" inquired the voice. feeling that he was doing himself well. After which. Everybody would be in bed. And this was where the trouble began. as indeed he was. Mike recognised it as Mr. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. The soda-water may have got into his head. the other into the boys' section. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. very loud and nasal. It would be quite safe.. Mr. after a few preliminary chords. This was Life. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. and set it going. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. Food. Wain's. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. A voice accompanied the banging. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. along the passage to the left. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . in spite of the fact that all was darkness. then. consoling thought came to him.realised that he was on parole. He took some more biscuits. one leading into Wain's part of the house. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. Then a beautiful. he examined the room. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. turning up the incandescent light. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. He had promised not to leave the house. He finished it. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat.."_ Mike stood and drained it in. Mr. It was quite late now. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. he proceeded to look about him. To make himself more secure he locked that door. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. He was not alarmed.

tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. but he must not overdo the thing." The answer was simple. and he sat up. that if Mr. He lay there. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. and get caught." thought Mike. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. breathless. "He'd clear out. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. J. and could get away by the other. and found that they were after him. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. And at the same time. "Now what. "would A. and warn Wyatt. though it was not likely. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. The handle-rattling was resumed. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. and reflected. suspicion would be diverted. If. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. His position was impregnable. on entering the room. He jumped out of bed. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. on the other hand. and he'd locked one door. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house.need to be alarmed. Two minutes later he was in bed. Wain. he must keep Mr." pondered Mike. just in time. He stopped the gramophone. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. and dashed down the dark stairs. It had occurred to him. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Evidently his . the kernel of the whole thing. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. It was open now. he opened the window. Then he began to be equal to it. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. This was good. Wain from coming to the dormitory. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. was that he must get into the garden somehow. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. to date. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. The main point. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. the most exciting episode of his life. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room.

"_Me_. He wore spectacles. I thought I heard a noise." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr." If it was Mr. "Of course not. Wain hurriedly. "Please. I don't know why I asked. looking out. catching sight of the gramophone. Mr. thin man. sir. drew inspiration from it. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. sir. Wain. Wain was a tall. sir. He looked about him. sir.retreat had been made just in time. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. sir. sir. could barely check a laugh." . What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise." "Looks like it. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones." "A noise?" "A row. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. Mike. "So I came down. He looked like some weird bird. Mr." said Mike. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. "Of course not. His hair was ruffled. of course not. Jackson. He spun round at the knock. He knocked at the door." "I found the window open. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. All this is very unsettling. and went in. sir!" said Mike. Wain was standing at the window." said Mike. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. and. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. please. sir. please." said Mr. Mr." "A noise?" "Please. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. "Thought I heard a noise. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. Wain continued to stare. a row. in spite of his anxiety.

as who should say. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. then tore for the regions at the back. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. He felt that all was well. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. His knees were covered with mould. sir. such an ass. "Who on earth's that?" it said. "Not likely. sir. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. The moon had gone behind the clouds." Mr. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. He ran to the window. There might be a bit of a row on his return. and hit Mike smartly over the shins." "Perhaps you are right. sir. Wain looked at the shrubbery. I mean. you might ." cried Mike. An inarticulate protest from Mr. "Is that you. sir. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. Wain. "He might be still in the house. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. Mike stopped. eliciting sharp howls of pain. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery." "Yes. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. I know. "You young ass." said Mr."He's probably in the garden. Wain. sir. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. and vaulted through it on to the lawn." said Wyatt. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. Jackson." Mr. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. _"Et tu. ruminatively.

I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold." "It wasn't that." "That's not a bad idea. sir." Mr. The thing was. I suppose. but I turned on the gramophone." said Mike. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster." "Please. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird. "I never saw such a man." he said. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. "You're a genius. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. You must tread like a policeman." "Yes. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. you might come down too. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. so excited. Well. I will not have it. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. Come in at least have the sense to walk quietly. sir. but you don't understand. standing outside with his hands on the sill. Exceedingly so. You dash along then." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. You have been seriously injured. you see.' Ripping it was. All right. if you like. Wain was still in the dining-room. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. till Wain came along. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. and I'll go back to the dining-room. "You have no business to be excited. sir." "Undoubtedly." Mike clambered through the window. "But how the dickens did he hear you. I'll get back. It was very wrong of you to search for him. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. come in." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. I will not have it. "Undoubtedly so. He must have got out of the garden. Exceedingly so" . it was rather a rotten thing to do. Have you no sense. Wain. Latin and English." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter." said Mr. "I couldn't find him. You will do me two hundred lines. Or. "It's miles from his bedroom.

preparatory to going on the river. James--and you. and have a look round. Wain "father" in private. I must be obeyed instantly. Jackson? James. He called Mr. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. sir?" said Wyatt. hanging over space. In these circumstances. Inordinately so." "Shall I go out into the garden. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said." said Mike. the other outside. of Donaldson's. "Stay where you are. "We might catch him. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. . Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. you will both be punished with extreme severity.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room." said Mike. sir." he said excitedly. It is preposterous. Wain into active eruption once more. "I thought I heard a noise. The question stung Mr. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. "sir" in public. getting tea ready. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. one leg in the room. He loved to sit in this attitude. sir. "only he has got away. James." he said. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes." "But the burglar. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. He yawned before he spoke. Both of you go to bed immediately. And. "I was under the impression. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. "Under no circumstances whatever. Clowes was on the window-sill. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. you understand me? To bed at once. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory." They made it so." he said. At least Trevor was in the study. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. You hear me. watching some one else work. Mr. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first.

Tigellinus." said Trevor." "You aren't doing a stroke." said Trevor. 'Good chap. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. Did I want them spread about the school? No.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. where is he? Among the also-rans. laddie. I have a brother myself. I'm thinking of Life. you slacker. I suppose it's fun to him. If you'd been a silly ass. I said. Trevor?" "One. 'and he's all right. slicing bread.' That's what I say. and looked sad. "I said. Trevor was shorter. That's a thing you couldn't do.' At least. I lodged a protest. as our old pal Nero used to remark. Cheek's what I call it. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. My people wanted to send him here. 'One Clowes is luxury. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. we see my brother two terms ago. But when it comes to deep thought. Like the heroes of the school stories. Trevor." "That shows your sense. Have you got any brothers. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. Consider it unsaid. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy." "See it done. Not a bad chap in his way. I mean.' I say. Where is he? Your brother." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded." breathed Trevor. and very much in earnest over all that he did. you'd have let your people send him here. I often say to people." said Clowes. I say.'" "You were right there. Aged fifteen. Clowes was tall. packing . Trevor.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. I should think. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. two excess. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school." "My mind at the moment. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. but can't think of Life. Hence." said Clowes." "Marlborough. which he was not. Better order it to-day." "My lad. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun." "Too busy. Couple of years younger than me." "I withdraw what I said about your sense." "Silly ass. "All right. "One for the pot. I did not. "Come and help.

but while they're there. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. My heart bleeds for Bob. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. It may be all right after they're left. It's the masters you've got to consider. At present. Bob seems to be trying the first way. But the term's hardly started yet. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. he returned to his subject. which he might easily do. so far. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. What's wrong with him? Besides. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us." said Trevor. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. It's just the one used by chaps' people. "Mr. as I said." he said. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. considering his cricket. with an unstained reputation. and he's very decent. come on. loved by all who know me. courted by boys. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way." "That's just it. It's all right. revered by all who don't. it's the limit. who looks on him as no sportsman. I suppose. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. fawned upon by masters. I've talked to him several times at the nets. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. In other words. For once in your life you've touched the spot." "What's up? Does he rag?" . and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble." "What a rotten argument." "Why?" "Well. which is what I should do myself.up his little box." "Jackson's all right. Now. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. too. If I frown----" "Oh." "Young Jackson seems all right. You say Jackson's all right. so he broods over him like a policeman. but. We were on the subject of brothers at school. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. At the end of that period. naturally. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct. however." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. he is. And here am I at Wrykyn. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. and tooling off to Rugby. perhaps. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. the term's only just started." "Well?" "Look here.

" "If you must tell anybody." "Yes. And if you're caught at that game. It's nothing to do with us. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. One always sees him about on half-holidays. Still." "The Gazeka is a fool. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. he's on the spot. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. and. walking back to the house." "All front teeth and side. anyhow. if Jackson's so thick with him. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. and which is bound to make rows between them. too." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. however. ." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. Better leave him alone. Besides. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. He's head of Wain's. tell the Gazeka. unless he leaves before it comes off. Let's stagger out. I shouldn't think so. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. which he hasn't time for. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days." Trevor looked disturbed. The odds are. every other night. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. and does them. But what's the good of worrying. He's asking for trouble. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm." "I don't know. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. Well. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. For instance." "He never seems to be in extra." "I know. it's the boot every time. You'd only make him do the policeman business. that he'll be roped into it too.

that I know of. "I say. That's his look out. It's his last." "I should. Only he is rather mucking about this term. "look here." "Not a bit. Why?" "It's this way." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. but. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. I say. He'd have more chance. I didn't mean that brother. all right. If Wyatt likes to risk it. I think I'll speak to him again." "Oh. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day." "I should get blamed." "I know. I meant the one here." ." said Bob." "Nor do I. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. Are you busy?" "No. you did? That's all right. bewildered." "I've done that. W. J. I hear. Smith said he'd speak to him. then." he said. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. sitting up.He found him in his study." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt." "That's all right then. Rather rot. "That reminds me. though. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. "My brother. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. I think. you know. being in the same house. I forgot to get the evening paper. Bob." "Don't blame him. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too." "Oh. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. Well?" "About your brother. oiling a bat. by Jove." "Oh. I spoke to him about it. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either.

Some trivial episode occurs. for years.' There's a subtle difference." "Saunders.s. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. I didn't go to him much this last time." "Hope so." "Yes. and had beaten them. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. when suddenly there is a hush. anyhow. the pro. Henfrey'll be captain. I expect. You have a pro. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. don't you?" "Yes. . 18. though. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. when they meet. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. to coach you in the holidays. having finished his oiling and washed his hands." "Well. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. "I thought I heard it go. and Bob. and he said. even. And. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view." He went back to his study. I suppose he'll get his first next year. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm." said Trevor. he thinks.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days." "Better than at the beginning of the term. W. and you are standing in a shower-bath. Better than J. and 51. at home. and there falls on you from space one big drop." "Sort of infant prodigy. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. it's not been chucked away. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. Nearly all the first are leaving.W. It is just the same with a row. Bob. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. I simply couldn't do a thing then. I was away a lot. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. Mr. Pretty good for his first term. started on his Thucydides. I asked him what he thought of me. You were rather in form. The next moment the thing has begun.

He's Wain's step-son. Bob played for the first." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. and Spence).S. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. There's a dinner after the matches on O.--Half-a-crown would do.W. Love to everybody. lasted. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. and there was rather a row. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. He was in it all right. The banquet. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. so I played. Rot I call it. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. could you? I'm rather broke. Rather decent. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing.S. lengthened by speeches. I may get another shot. only I'd rather it was five bob. and half the chaps are acting. I hope you are quite well. On the Monday they were public property.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. I didn't do much. The thing had happened after this fashion. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. only I don't quite know where he comes in. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. songs.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. but didn't do much. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. I wasn't in it. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. "Your loving son. They stop the cricket on O. only they bar one another) told me about it. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. because they won the toss and made 215. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. Rather rot. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. B. together with the school choir. on the back of the envelope. Jones. and I got bowled).P. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. day. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter.W. "P. because I didn't get an innings. I had to dive for it. So I didn't go in.W. as a . "P. He was run out after he'd got ten." And. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. so we stop from lunch to four. "MIKE. the Surrey man. I believe he's rather sick about it.--Thanks awfully for your letter. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game.--I say. and 30 in a form match. Low down. Still. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER.

As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. Words can be overlooked. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. But tomatoes cannot. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. it was not considered worth it. all might yet have been peace. and that the criticisms were. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. and turn in. The school was always anxious for a row.rule. as usual. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. one's views are apt to alter. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. Wrykyn. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. About midway between Wrykyn. accordingly. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. When. As a rule. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. and then race back to their houses. for the honour of the school. Possibly. It was the custom. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. This was the official programme. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. Risks which before supper seemed great. . the town. and the authorities. in the midst of their festivities. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. therefore. the town. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. till about ten o'clock. brainless. and had been the custom for generations back. But there were others. the school. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. In the present crisis. and Wrykyn. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. which they used. as a rule. and. rural type of hooliganism. show a tendency to dwindle. essentially candid and personal.

Gloomy in the daytime. and the procession had halted on the brink. "Let's chuck 'em in there. and stampeded as one man. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. but two remained." he said. panting. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. for they suddenly gave the fight up. Wyatt." it said. of whose presence you had no idea. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. He very seldom lost his temper. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. It struck Wyatt. it was no time for science. The leaders were beyond recall. except the prisoners. now in a solid mass. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. while some dear friend of his. and then kicks your shins. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. "Now then. It raged up and down the road without a pause. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring." he said quietly. at any rate at first. it looked unspeakable at night. By the side of the road at this point was a green. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. The science was on the side of the school. depressed looking pond. They were smarting under a sense of injury. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. Barely a dozen remained. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. . A move was made towards the pond. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato.There was a moment of suspense. But. when a new voice made itself heard. now splitting up into little groups. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent.

"Make 'em leave hold of us." "I don't want none of your lip." said Wyatt. "You run along on your beat. A howl from the townee. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond." "Stop!" From Mr. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice."What's all this?" "It's all right. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. "All right. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. you chaps. You can't do anything here. going in second." "It's anything but a lark. with a change in his voice. He'll have churned up a bit. are they? Come now. and a splash compared with which . but if out quick they may not get on to you." said Mr. and seized the captive by the arm." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. a cheer from the launching party. I expect there are leeches and things there." "Ho!" said the policeman. or you'll go typhoid. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. The prisoner did. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. but you ought to know where to stop. a yell from the policeman. you chaps." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. Carry on. Mr." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. He ploughed his way to the bank. and suspecting impudence by instinct. "This is quite a private matter. "Ho. Butt. it's an execution. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman." said Wyatt. scrambled out. Don't swallow more than you can help. Butt. This isn't a lark. a lark's a lark. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. understanding but dimly. That's what we are. sprang forward. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. Butt. The policeman realised his peril too late. Constable Butt. young gentleman. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. and vanished. whoever you are.

(I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. it has become world-famous. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. _Plop_!" said Mr. with others. Butt fierce and revengeful. and throws away the match. really!" said the headmaster. The tomato hit Wyatt. and "with them. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. and all was over. sir. they did.the first had been as nothing. having prudently changed his clothes. Mr. sir. It was no occasion for light apologies. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. Butt. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. The imagination of the force is proverbial. Butt gave free rein to it. calling upon the headmaster. sheets of fire are racing over the country. I shall--certainly----" ." said Wyatt. and." "Threw you in!" "Yes. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. Following the chain of events. Mr. Butt. "Threw me in. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. before any one can realise what is happening. sir. went to look for the thrower.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. "Really. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. Police Constable Alfred Butt. but both comparisons may stand. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. and the interested neighbours are following their example. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. Wyatt. Yes. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. but in the present case." as they say in the courts of law. with a certain sad relish. "Do you know. we find Mr. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond.

" he added. She says to me." The headmaster's frown deepened. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. and fighting. again with the confidential air.' And.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. sir.' And. "I was on my beat. As it was. They shall be punished. sir. I will look into the matter at once.' I says. sir! Mrs. They actually seized you. Good-night. 'Wot's this all about. and I couldn't see not to say properly. He ." said Mr. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. and I thought I heard a disturbance. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here." concluded Mr. right from the beginning. with the air of one confiding a secret. I wonder?' I says." "Good-night. sir. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. "How many boys were there?" he asked. sir!" said the policeman." "Yes--Thank you. Had he been a motorist. I can hardly believe that it is possible." "H'm--Well. Lots of them all gathered together. sir." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. "Couple of 'undred. Butt." "I have never heard of such a thing. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten.' I says. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. Mr. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. "I _was_ wet. sir. 'a frakkus. sir. Butt started it again. 'Why. ''Allo. too." "Yes." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. sir. sir. I says to myself. according to discretion. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. sir. Wringin' wet." "Yes. constable. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying. Butt promptly. beginning to suspect something. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood.

* * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. Only two days before the O. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. or nearly always. And here they were. always ready to stop work. When condensed. blank. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way." they had said. .'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. which was followed throughout the kingdom. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. and the school. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. There is every probability--in fact. expend itself in words. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. "There'll be a frightful row about it. which at one time had looked like being fatal. I say!" Everybody was saying it. and not of only one or two individuals. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. It happened that. become public property. The blow had fallen. however. It must always. It was one vast. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it.. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. it is certain--that. It could not understand it. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. though not always in those words. about a week before the pond episode. As it was.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. was culpable. A public school has no Hyde Park. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. of course. he would have asked for their names. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. astounded "Here. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. The school was thunderstruck.. and in private at that. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. as a whole. They were not malicious. and finally become a mere vague memory.. he got the impression that the school. but for one malcontent. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. The pond affair had. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. right in it after all.W.

even though he may not approve of it. He said it was a swindle. It requires genius to sway a school. a day-boy." "You're rotting. and. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. on the whole. Wyatt was unmoved. and that it was a beastly shame. "Well. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. their ironbound conservatism. that it was all rot. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic." "All right. Leaders of men are rare." Neville-Smith stopped and stared." "Why not?" said Wyatt. I'm not going to. Wyatt acted on him like some drug." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets.The malcontent was Wyatt. as a whole. Before he came to Wyatt. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality." . and he was full of it. a daring sort of person. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. intense respect for order and authority. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. He added that something ought to be done about it. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. and scenting sarcasm. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. and probably considered himself. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority.

Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl." said Wyatt. They couldn't sack the whole school. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. "It would be a bit of a rag. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." "By Jove." "You'll get sacked. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith. If the whole school took Friday off. ragging barred. Wyatt whistling. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. and let you know. but. they couldn't do much." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless." "All right." "I could get quite a lot. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. what a score. "I say. Are you just going to cut off. I say." "That would be a start." said Neville-Smith after a pause. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. I should be glad of a little company."No. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." "Not bad." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night." "I say. I believe." "I suppose so. excited way. Groups kept forming in corners apart. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea." Another pause. "Do. But only because I shall be the only one to do it.

trying to get in in time to answer their names. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day." "So do I. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. what a swindle if he did. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. but it had its leaven of day-boys. The majority of these lived in the town. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. it's just striking. as a general rule. and walked to school. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. Why. I say. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. who. and at three minutes to nine. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. "It's jolly rum. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. came on bicycles. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part." said Brown. though unable to interfere. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. saying it was on again all right. like the gravel. to Brown. the only other occupant of the form-room. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters." . were empty. whose homes were farther away. "I say.W.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. however. rather to the scandal of the authorities. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. A few." "Somebody would have turned up by now." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. Some one might have let us know. I can't make it out. I should have got up an hour later. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. The form-rooms. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick." "So should I." said Willoughby. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. of the Lower Fifth. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery.'s day row.

We were just wondering. He was not a house-master. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. "Willoughby." "This is extraordinary. here _is_ somebody. Several voices hailed Mr."Hullo. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are." "Have you seen nobody?" "No." "Yes. as you say. "Well. there is a holiday to-day. as was his habit. Not a single one. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. Spence. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements." he said." "I've heard nothing about it. Brown. and looked puzzled. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. sir. "Hullo." "We were just wondering. Spence as he entered. Seeing the obvious void. Mr. if the holiday had been put on again. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. sir. A brisk conversation was going on." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. sir. Spence seated himself on the table. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. Spence told himself. and the notice was not brought to me. And they were all very puzzled. as he walked to the Common Room. we don't know. The usual lot who come on bikes. . after all. Perhaps. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. He walked briskly into the room. Spence?" Mr. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall." Mr. he stopped in his stride. sir. sir. sir." "None of the boarders?" "No." Mr. Spence pondered. Spence. and a few more were standing. sir.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

As the army drew near to the school. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. the march home was started. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. Wyatt. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. He always told that as his best story. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. Other inns were called upon for help. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. "Yes. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. And the army lunched sumptuously." said Wyatt. faintly. At Worfield the expedition lunched. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. and as evening began to fall. . jam. At the school gates only a handful were left.his paper. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. In the early afternoon they rested. "Anything I can do for you. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. please. * * * * * At the school. net practice was just coming to an end when. singing the school song. And two days later. fortunately." the leading inn of the town. It was not a market-day. and apples. In addition. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. with comments and elaborations. Private citizens rallied round with bread. it melted away little by little. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. They looked weary but cheerful. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. and he always ended with the words. each house claiming its representatives. as generalissimo of the expedition." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness.

"Hullo. and gazed at him. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. indeed." He then gave the nod of dismissal. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. speechless." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics." he said. But it came all . There was. Now for it. "I say. "My dear chap. met Wyatt at the gate. Finds the job too big to tackle. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. It hasn't started yet. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. walking back to Donaldson's. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether." Wyatt was damping.Bob Jackson. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. were openly exulting. The school streamed downstairs. marvelling. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. isn't it! He's funked it." said Wyatt. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have." he chuckled. thought the school. This was the announcement. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. "this is all right. The less astute of the picnickers. they didn't send in the bill right away. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. I thought he would.

The headmaster had acted. It was a comprehensive document. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. This bloated document was the extra lesson list.right. "None of the kids are in it. You wait." said Mike ruefully. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. I'm glad you got off." "Sting?" "Should think it did. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred." he said. "Bates must have got writer's cramp." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. "he is an old sportsman." "Glad you think it funny. Only the bigger fellows." Wyatt roared with laughter. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson. then?" "Rather. Rather a good thing. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. He lowers all records. who was walking a little stiffly. I was one of the first to get it." said Mike. "What!" "Yes. "By Gad. It left out little. To-day. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. and post them outside the school shop." "Thanks. the school sergeant." Wyatt was right. They surged round it. "I don't know what you call getting off. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. as he read the huge scroll. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. He was quite fresh." "Do you think he's going to do something." it began. Buns were forgotten. as they went back to the house." said Clowes. I never saw such a man." . I notice.

"It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. Me." "You needn't rot. I thought you weren't." "I say. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. incidentally. one of the places. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot." "An extra's nothing much." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. Wyatt. whatever his batting was like. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. Any more? No. Burgess is simply mad on fielding." said Mike uncomfortably. "I'm not rotting.C. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled." "I should be awfully sick. making a century in record time). The present was one of the rare . especially as he's a bowler himself. rather. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. He had his day-dreams." continued Wyatt. rather. was a genial giant." said Mike. like everybody else." said Mike indignantly. Ashe." said Mike. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. I don't blame him either." "Oh. you're better off than I am." * * * * * Billy Burgess. "All right.C. do you?" said Mike awkwardly." "I'm not breaking down. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. You'll probably get my place in the team. "Or. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. overcome. buck up. so you're all right. if his fielding was something extra special. if it were me. Anyhow. Let's see. Adams. really. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. So you field like a demon this afternoon. I should think they'd give you a chance. Fielding especially. "it's awfully decent of you." said Wyatt seriously. That's next Wednesday." "Well."Well. captain of Wrykyn cricket. what rot!" "It is. that's the lot. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. But there'll be several vacancies. Still." "You don't think there's any chance of it. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No." "I say. Don't break down. by Jove! I forgot. it isn't you. match. Probably Druce.

I've dropped my stud. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. "The fact is." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. "I'm awfully sorry. Besides. Dash." grumbled Burgess." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. and drop you into the river." "Right ho!." "I suppose he is. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. I was on the spot. he isn't small. "Eight. "Come on." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. That's your trouble.C. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. and let's be friends.C.C." "Why don't you play him against the M. full of strange oaths. Wyatt found him in his study. and a better field.. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. Then he returned to the attack. in the excitement of the moment the M." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. Bill. There it is in the corner.C. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute." said Wyatt. He's as tall as I am. like the soldier in Shakespeare. as Wyatt appeared. give me a kiss. And I'd jump on the sack first. I will say that for him. That kid's good. match went clean out of my mind. jumping at his opportunity." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. "He's as good a bat as his brother. shortly before lock-up. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked." "Rot. For a hundred and three.." "You haven't got a mind.

bottom but one. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. He read it. chaps who play forward at everything. Wyatt. and his heart missed a beat. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. Frightful gift of the gab you've got." he said." said Wyatt.C." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. "Just give him a trial. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. "You know. So long. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age." said Burgess. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. Burgess. I shall be locked out. how you 'discovered' M." he said. Give him a shot. it's a bit risky. just above the W. "You rotter. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. "Think it over. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. "I'll think it over. poor kids. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. "All right. B. Everything seems hushed and expectant. better . And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren.C. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. For." said Wyatt. then. The bell went ages ago. His own name. at Lord's. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. and you rave about top men in the second. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. there is a curious." "You play him.C. gassing to your grandchildren.C. wouldn't you? Very well." "Good. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. even Joe." Burgess hesitated." Wyatt got up.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. Jackson. That kid's a genius at cricket." Wyatt stopped for breath. CHAPTER XIII THE M.

"Why. "Isn't it ripping." said Saunders. I'm hanged! Young marvel. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. so that they could walk over together. Only wants the strength. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. team came down the steps. the lost. isn't he. "Didn't I always say it. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. He could almost have cried with pure fright. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. when the strangeness has worn off. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. feeling quite hollow. and I got one of the places. "Got all the strokes. Master Mike. "Why. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman." he said. where he had changed. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. I'm only playing as a sub." he chuckled. He stopped short. here he is. Master Mike. and stopped dead." "Well. Mike walked across from Wain's.after lunch. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. sir." "Of course. as Saunders had done." Joe took Mike by the shoulder.C." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. you know. you'll make a hundred to-day. Saunders?" "He is. Hullo. and quite suddenly. Three chaps are in extra." said Saunders. Saunders!" cried Mike. and then they'll have to put you in. saw him.C. to wait. Master Joe. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. hopeless feeling left Mike. I always said it. "By Jove. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes.. sir." "Well.

C. but Bob fumbled it. exhibiting Mike. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. "Aged ten last birthday. and hoping that nothing would come his way. The M." "I _have_ won the toss. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. was feeling just the same. At twenty. getting in front of his wicket. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. as usual. Saunders is our only bowler. The Authentic. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. On the other hand. and was l. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. sorry as a captain. and the pair gradually settled down. almost held it a second time. relief came." "This is our star. "I never saw such a family. but he contrived to chop it away. still taking risks. missed it. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. The wicket was hard and true. but he is. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. You are only ten. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. just when things seemed most hopeless. aren't you. for Joe. team. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. And. The beginning of the game was quiet. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. It was a moment too painful for words. Burgess was glad as a private individual.C.C. It was the easiest of slip-catches. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. Joe began to open his shoulders. conscious of being an uncertain field.C." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone.w. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. As a captain." said the other with dignity. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. who grinned bashfully. You wait till he gets at us to-day.M. and playing for the school. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. Bob. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over.b. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. . "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. For himself. not to mention the other first-class men. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. dropped it. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. tried to late-cut a rising ball.

after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. and was stumped next ball.C. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. as usual. there was scarcely time. Burgess. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. A comfortable. total over the three hundred. on the present occasion." he said to Berridge and Marsh. coming in last. Runs came with fair regularity. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. "Better have a go for them. and two hundred and fifty. Some years before. but exceedingly hard to shift. A hundred an hour is quick work. After this.C. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. the hundred and fifty at half-past. and was then caught by Mike. Two hundred went up. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. all round the wicket. Unfortunately. Following out this courageous advice. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. was a thoroughly sound bat. Then Joe reached his century. Morris.C. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. but wickets fell at intervals." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . was optimistic. Joe was still in at one end. to make the runs. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. the school first pair. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. Then came lunch. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. The hundred went up at five o'clock. however. against Ripton. "By Jove.C. was stumped half-way through the third. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps." said Burgess. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. I wish I was in. things settled down. third-change bowlers had been put on. and the M. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. hit two boundaries. Four after four. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. a little on the slow side. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. His second hit had just lifted the M.The school revived. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. the first-wicket man. Saunders. invincible. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. "Lobs. Both batsmen were completely at home. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. Berridge. the end was very near.

Twenty runs were added. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. Mike drew courage from his attitude. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. and hit the wicket." said Burgess. "and it's ten past six. he felt better. fumbling at a glove. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. He was jogging on steadily to his century. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. The first over yielded six runs. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. The bowler smiled sadly. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. It was the same story to-day.. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. In the second. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. Lobs are the most dangerous. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. No good trying for the runs now.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. Bob Jackson went in next. At the wickets.. . looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. all through gentle taps along the ground. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. seemed to give Morris no trouble. He had refused to be tempted. tottered out into the sunshine. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. It was his turn next. And that was the end of Marsh." All!. and a thin. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. by a series of disasters. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. five wickets were down. Stick in. Morris was still in at one end. but they were distinctly envious. Bob. and Morris. and get the thing over. As a matter of fact. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. For a time things went well. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. as usual. "That's all you've got to do. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. At last he arrived. insinuating things in the world. Saunders. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. He knew his teeth were chattering. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. three of them victims to the lobs. and Mike. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. He wished he could stop them. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. The long stand was followed. because they had earned it. as if he hated to have to do these things." he added to Mike. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead.

moment Mike felt himself again." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. The next moment the dreams had come true. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home.." said the umpire. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. All nervousness had left him. "Play straight. Mike would have liked to have run two. There was only Reeves to follow him. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. besides being conscientious. the school was shouting. sir. Half-past six chimed. Burgess came in. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. did not disturb him. Even the departure of Morris. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. "To leg. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. wryly but gratefully. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. which he hit to the terrace bank. he failed signally.. Burgess continued to hit. sometimes a cut. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. . Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. If so. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. The moment had come. and bowled. and. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. and invariably hit a boundary. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. but always a boundary. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. but he himself must simply stay in. Mike grinned. "Don't be in a funk. just the right distance away from the off-stump. He felt equal to the situation. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board." It was Joe. Saunders was beginning his run.." said a voice.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. It was a half-volley. and Saunders. Saunders was a conscientious man. The bowling became a shade loose. doubtless. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. Now. On the other hand. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. skips and the jump. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. Sometimes a drive. and you can't get out.

Mike played it back to the bowler. You won't get any higher. "I'll give him another shot. Number two: yorker. "I'm sorry about your nose. at the last ball. and mid-off." said Wyatt. "I told you so. But it was all that he expected. "nothing. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. and missed the wicket by an inch." said the wicket-keeper. "You are a promising man. Mike let it alone. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. fast left-hand. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. jumping. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump." Mike was a certainty now for the second. and we have our eye on you. of the School House." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude.C. He hit out. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. naturally. this may not seem an excessive reward.C." But Burgess." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. That meant. almost at a venture. Joe. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. who had played twice for the first eleven. were not brilliant cricketers. as many a good man had done before him." Then came the second colours. Down on it again in the old familiar way. They might mean anything from "Well. to Burgess after the match. at any rate as far . Five: another yorker. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. just failed to reach it. and Mike got his place in the next match. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him.The lob bowler had taken himself off. against the Gentlemen of the County. All was well. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. Four: beat him. * * * * * So Wilkins. as has been pointed out. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. First one was given one's third eleven cap. Unfortunately for him. here you are. "He's not bad. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. the visiting team. It hummed over his head. dropped down into the second. match." said Burgess. so you may as well have the thing now. however gentlemanly.

getting here and there a single and now and then a two. The Gazeka. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. and was thoroughly set." he shouted. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. . Raikes possessed few subtleties. when the Gazeka. Mike went in first wicket. with Raikes. House matches had begun. _verbatim_. The school won the toss. Then Wain's opened their innings. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. having the most tender affection for his dignity. making twenty-five. He was enjoying life amazingly. bursting with fury. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at bowling was concerned. He had made seventeen. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. Mike pounded it vigorously. Run along. of the third eleven. but Firby-Smith. went in first. See? That's all. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. this score did not show up excessively." Mike departed. hit one in the direction of cover-point. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. as the star. and he and Wyatt went in first. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. supported by some small change. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. as head of the house. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. For some ten minutes all was peace. he waxed fat and kicked. eh? Well. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. and Marsh all passing the half-century. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. match. and Berridge. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. and was then caught at cover. Bob. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. "Well. prancing down the pitch. Morris making another placid century. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. who had the bowling. and.C. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. mind you don't go getting swelled head. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. "Come on. did better in this match. not out. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. Ellerby. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. to the detriment of Mike's character. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. The following. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. It happened in this way. was captain of the side. made a fuss.C." he said.

a man of simple speech. "It isn't funny." he said reprovingly.Mike. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. besides being captain of the eleven. miss it. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. "I want to speak to you. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. he was also sensitive on the subject. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. "Rather a large order." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. feeling now a little apprehensive. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. Burgess. a prefects' meeting. The world swam before Mike's eyes. you know. And only a prefects' meeting. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. "What's up?" said Burgess. chewing the insult." Burgess looked incredulous. "Easy run there. avoided him. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. and lick him. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon." he said. These are solemn moments. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. At close of play he sought Burgess. "Don't _laugh_." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. "You know young Jackson in our house." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_." . you grinning ape!" he cried. Firby-Smith arrived. And Mike. thought Firby-Smith. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel." he said. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. cover having thrown the ball in. was also head of the school. Firby-Smith did not grovel. Burgess. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. shouting "Run!" and.

Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. "Yes. I'll think it over. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. In the first place. And here was another grievance against fate. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. anyhow. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. It was only fair that Bob should be told." "He's frightfully conceited. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come.C. In the second place. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. the results of the last few matches. On the other hand. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. and particularly the M. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. and let you know to-morrow. Bob was one of his best friends. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. therefore. match. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. It became necessary. he's a decent kid. were strong this year at batting. well--Well. Burgess started to laugh. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. "Well." said Firby-Smith. look here. Still. ." "Oh.C. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. but turned the laugh into a cough. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. Here was he. "Rather thick. Geddington. but he thought the thing over. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. with the air of one uttering an epigram." And the matter was left temporarily at that. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. Bob occurred to him. I mean--A prefects' meeting. as the nearest of kin. Besides." he said meditatively. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. He thought he would talk it over with somebody.

Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. He came to me frothing with rage." "Well. but in fielding there was a great deal. Bob was bad. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. It's rather hard to see what to do. look here.' Billy." suggested Burgess. took his place. one's bound to support him. Mike was good. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. and Neville-Smith. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. "Silly young idiot. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. thanks. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. sitting over here. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely." ." "I suppose so.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. dark. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess." he added. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. "Still----" "I know. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. you can. "Still. Bob. The tall. So out Bob had gone. I sympathise with the kid. can't you? This is me. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. I want to see you. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. Have some?" "No. "Take a pew. handsome chap. the man. "Busy. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. "Sickening thing being run out. You know how to put a thing nicely." "It's awfully awkward. the captain. Bob?" he asked. you know. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team." he said." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. but he _is_ an ass. "Hullo. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. I say." continued Burgess gloomily. "Personally. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk." said Bob.

Seeing Bob. though. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. not much of a catch for me." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. You know. having to sit there and look on. "Look here. go and ask him to drop the business. "Burgess was telling me. "I that sort. you know." It was a difficult moment for Bob. But he recovered himself. I know. "Don't do that." he said. I don't know. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. you know. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. He wants kicking. nothing--I mean. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. I tell you what. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. is there? I mean. "You see it now." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. he became all animation. "I say." emended the aggrieved party. One cannot help one's thoughts. made him waver. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. aren't you? Well. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. He gets right way. "Well. apart from everything else." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects."Awful rot. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me." said Bob. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. He had a great admiration for Bob. "Yes?" "Oh." said Bob." he said. "I didn't think of you. "I wanted to see you. Look here. would it be." he said. you're a pal of his. I'm a prefect. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. Bob. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith." he said. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. "I thought you hadn't. you're not a bad sort. too. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. You must play the the old Gazeka over." .

and Burton felt revengeful. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed." said Mike. in the course of his address. he gave him to understand. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. "I'm specially glad for one reason. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right." and Bob waving them back." "Thanks. fourteen years of age. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. you know. Curiously enough. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. I did run him out. Reflection. He was a punctured balloon. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. All he wanted was to get the thing done with." said Bob. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance." "Thanks. . But for Bob. I think if I saw him and cursed him. and the offensively forgiving. there's that. "I say. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. of Donaldson's. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. And. All right then. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. Burton was a slippery young gentleman." said Burton. though without success. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. and unburdened his soul to him."Well. of course. most of all. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. he. really. He was not inclined to be critical. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. Mike's all right. and owed him many grudges." "Yes. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. After all." "Of course it was. without interest. so subdued was his fighting spirit. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. Firby-Smith. Still. it was frightful cheek." "No." "What's that?" inquired Mike. he felt grateful to Bob. and went to find Mike. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. Mike. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington.

He tapped with his right hand. He thought the thing over more fully during school." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. Not once or twice. just before lock-up. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. retiring hurriedly. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. weighing this remark. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. We wanted your batting.54 next morning. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. They were _all_ beasts. though." "I say." "Hope so. anyway. rather. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. Burgess."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. I suppose?" "Oh. and his decision remained unaltered. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. so that Burton. * * * * * Mike walked on. but several times. CHAPTER XVI . He'd have been playing but for you." "Thanks. that's bad luck." And Burgess. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. yes. On the evening before the Geddington match." said Mike stolidly. Be all right. "Come in!" yelled the captain. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. in a day or two. Good-night. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. and gradually made up his mind." said Mike. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. He kicked Burton. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. some taint. Beastly bad luck. too." "Good-night. as it were. for his left was in a sling.

His telegram arrived during morning school. But it's really nothing. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. . Uncle John took command of the situation at once. There's a second match on." "They're playing Geddington. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. He had thereupon left the service. after an adventurous career. thanks. at the request of Mike's mother. mainly in Afghanistan. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. Uncle John. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life." "Hurt?" "Not much. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. and. It doesn't matter a bit. Only it's away. Mike? I want to see a match. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. Now. and. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. Coming south." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket." "Why aren't you--Hullo. It's nothing much. Still. I think I should like to see the place first." "I could manage about that. Somebody ought to look at it. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. really. "It isn't anything. I didn't see. what shall we do. "School playing anybody to-day. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round." "H'm. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. I'll have a look later on." "Never mind." "Doctor seen it?" "No.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. Be all right by Monday.

I remember your father saying you had played once for the school." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. as Trevor. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. and they passed on to the cricket field. it was this Saturday. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. I didn't know that." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. but he choked the feeling down. "That's Trevor. A sudden. Mike. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. They look as if they were getting set.Got to be done. The thing was done." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded." "For the first? For the school! My word. But I wish I . and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. There are only three vacancies. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. Of course. and better do it as soon as possible. that. by George!" remarked Uncle John." two or three times in an absent voice. He's in the School House. "Chap in Donaldson's. It was a glorious day. By Jove." "Still. "If he does well to-day. "Ah yes." "Rather awkward. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago." said Mike. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. but I thought that was only as a substitute." he said enviously. I was playing for the first. Very nice. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. I should think. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. Then there'll be only the last place left. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. Neville-Smith. it's Bob's last year. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school." Uncle John detected the envious note. they'll probably keep him in. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. if he does well against Geddington. What bad luck. and done well. I've got plenty of time. I see. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green.

let me--Done it? Good." "Rotten trick for a boy. Lunch. unskilful stroke." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. The telegram read.could get in this year. "It's really nothing." "Pull your left." said Mike. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. "Ye--no. The next piece of shade that you see. "The worst of a school. They got up. Which reminds me. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. "That hurt?" he asked. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. When you get to my age you need it. and sighed contentedly. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. Uncle John looked up sharply. but his uncle had already removed the sling. "That willow's what you want. Mike was crimson. and we'll put in there." said Mike. He could hear nothing but his own breathing." stammered Mike." After they had watched the match for an hour." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes." he began. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. Can you manage with one hand? Here. Let's have a look at the wrist. Mike?" "No. as he pulled up-stream with strong." said Uncle John. "Let's just call at the shop. "Put the rope over that stump. I wonder how Bob's got on." "Not bad that. recovered himself. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. caught a crab. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. I badly want a pipe. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. then gave it a little twist. . sing out. "I hope you don't smoke. "Geddington 151 for four." said Mike.

I won't give you away. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute.. really. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations." Uncle John was silent. Lock-up's at half-past. I was nearly asleep. one may as well tell the truth. That's how it was. I think. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. well. where his fate was even now being sealed. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington.." . Mike told it. so I thought I might as well let him. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. Mike said nothing. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. It had struck him as neat and plausible. There was an exam. "Jove. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. dash it all then. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Look here." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point." When in doubt. would they give him his cap? Supposing. "May as well tell me.) "Swear you won't tell him. on. let his mind wander to Geddington." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. swear you won't tell him. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. It wasn't that. "I know." "I won't tell him. gaping. and his uncle sat up. Only----" "Well?" "Oh." "I ought to be getting back soon. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. while Mike.. (This.

and rejoined his uncle. I wanted to go to sleep. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. "We won. Mike pushed his way through the crowd."Up with the anchor. It was a longer message this time. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause." Wyatt began to undress." he said. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. thanks. Don't fall overboard. then. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. Neville-Smith four). eh? We are not observed." Mike worked his way back through the throng. Uncle John felt in his pocket. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. Marsh 58. I'm done. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. "It was simply baking at Geddington. as they reached the school gates. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. Jackson 48)." said Mike. I'm going to shove her off." "There'll be another telegram. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. "By Jove." He paused for a moment. "Bob made forty-eight. . CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "Well?" said Uncle John. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. It was the only possible reply. and they ragged the whole time. better. I should think. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat." he added carelessly. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. How's your wrist?" "Oh. only they wouldn't let me.

" "Why. when he does give a couple of easy chances. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. A bit lucky. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. had come to much the same conclusion. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. with watercress round it. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. If he dwelt on it. He let their best man off twice in one over. Never saw a clearer case in my life." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad." Burgess. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. And. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. Jenkins and Clephane. Their umpire. to-day. With great guile he had fed this late cut." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. Chap had a go at it. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. Ripping innings bar those two chances. he fell asleep. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands."No. Beastly man to bowl to. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . and another chap. Just lost them the match. too." "Most captains would have done. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. Only one or two thirds. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. he felt. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. He was very fond of Bob. off Billy. Bob puts them both on the floor. though. can't remember who. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. Bit of luck for Bob. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. I was in at the other end. he would get insomnia. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. Soothed by these memories. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. as he lay awake in his cubicle. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. No first. reviewing the match that night. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath.

It's simply awful." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. but I mean." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first." "I know. I hate the slips. as he stood regarding the game from afar. Both of them were. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. I know that if a catch does come. Bob figured on the boundary. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. of Seymour's. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. and hoped for the day. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. Bob. he played for the second. I'm frightfully sorry. About your fielding. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . Trevor'll hit me up catches. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should." "Do you know. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. I can't time them. I shall miss it. I'll practise like mad. Bob." Bob was all remorse. This did not affect the bulk of the school." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. Try it. accordingly. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom.chance of reforming. "Look here. "It's those beastly slip catches. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. drop by drop." "All right then. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. I'm certain the deep would be much better. I believe I should do better in the deep. * * * * * In the next two matches. found his self-confidence returning slowly." "Well. As for Mike. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. I could get time to watch them there.

And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . and also. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. the son of the house. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. disappeared from Society. at the same moment. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. and thought of Life. for chicken-pox. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. Upstairs. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. squealing louder than any two others. Oakes. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. On the Tuesday afternoon. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). Shoeblossom. who was top of the school averages. the school doctor. G. Marsh." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. of the first eleven. and at the bottom of the heap. He had occasional headaches. was called for. would be Shoeblossom. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. Where were his drives now. In brief. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. what was more important. where he read _Punch_. and returned to the school. He made his way there. The professional advice of Dr. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. and. He. Two days later Barry felt queer. and in the dingy back shop. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. peace. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. sucked oranges. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. he was attending J. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. however necessary such an action might seem to him. Shoeblossom came away.Quiet Student. too. He tried out of doors. entering the High Street furtively. Essentially a man of moods. but people threw cushions at him. He tried the junior day-room. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. The next victim was Marsh. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. the doctor was recommending that Master John George.

batting first on the drying wicket.elect. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. I've got the taste in my mouth still. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. when Wain's won the footer cup. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. His food ran out. for Neville-Smith. All sorts of luxuries. and the Incogniti. Have to look after my digestion. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. and the school. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. going in fourth wicket. did anything to distinguish himself. The weather may have had something to do with it. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. and I'm alone. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. for no apparent reason. Got through a slice. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. and after that the rout began. Bob. Too old now. "Well. too." . and was not out eleven. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. They had only been beaten once. But on this particular day. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. three years ago. but nobody except Wyatt. I remember. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. bar the servants. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. Some schools do it in nearly every match. they failed miserably. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. doubled this. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. The total was a hundred and seven. batting when the wicket was easier. for rain fell early in the morning. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. and ate that. made a dozen. and Mike kept his end up. And I can square them. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago.

"because it is. making desultory conversation the while. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. of course." "You were all right. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. I don't know." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. passed him the bread. Pity to spoil the record. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. he poured Mike out a cup. He's bound to get in next year. He got tea ready. was more at his ease. I can't say more than that. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. "Not seen much of each other lately. Mike. Why? What about?" ." "You get on much better in the deep. Bob. and sat down. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. being older." "Oh. of course. We've all been at Wrykyn." continued Bob." "Bit better. When he had finished. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel." Mike stared. he would just do it. Beastly awkward. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. yes. one wants the best man. Still. though. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. But young Mike's all over him as a bat.

now. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything." muttered Mike. but don't feel bound to act on it. He's a shade better than R.. "Well. I'll give you my opinion.'" "Oh.'s like a sounding-board. but. "Not at all. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. sir?' Spence said. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. I couldn't help hearing what they said. It had been his one ambition. They thought the place was empty. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. So Mike edged out of the room. After all. I was in the pav.' said Spence. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. Billy agreed with him. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. don't let's go to the other extreme. Burgess. Spence said. sir. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. . 'That's just what I think. It's the fortune of war. '_I_ think M. rot. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. He was sorry for Bob. sir. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. to shake his hand."Well. What do you think. and so on. in the First room. there'll be no comparison. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. 'It's rough on Bob. and then sheered off myself. I'm jolly glad it's you. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. 'Decidedly M. There was nothing much to _be_ said. And so home. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. Well. As it isn't me.' 'Yes. 'Well. I waited a bit to give them a good start." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. and I picked it up and started reading it. and said nothing. and that's what he's there for. Congratulate you. what I wanted to see you about was this. on the other hand. 'I don't know what to do. I fancy you've won. and tore across to Wain's. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid." It was the custom at Wrykyn. of course. I heard every word. Bob. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life.' he said." resumed Bob. "Thanks.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. The pav. Billy said. just now.' said old Bill. They shook hands." said Mike. awfully. he's cricket-master. wiping the sweat off his forehead. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. and now he had achieved it." Mike looked at the floor. 'Well. and in a year or two. of course. I'm simply saying what I think.

" said Mike. was not. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. It wouldn't do. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. Still. therefore.30 to-morrow morning. This was to the good. as it always does. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. And Wyatt was at Bisley. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. orders were orders. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels.--W. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. It would have to be done. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. Until he returned. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. Reaching out a hand for his watch.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. a prospect that appealed to him. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team.-S. As he passed it. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. he felt. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. Mike could tell nobody. and a little more. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. even on a summer morning. . He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past." "Oh. and this silent alarm proved effective. F. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. dash it. he found that it was five minutes past six. He took his quarter of an hour.

Was this right. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. I want to know what it all means. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. Here was he. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. he said to himself. And outside in the cricket-field. dash it all. "Young Jackson. he asked himself." he said. Who _was_ he. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. One knows that delay means inconvenience. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. being ordered about. in coming to his den. and jolly quick. But not a chap who. "look here. after all? This started quite a new train of thought.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. The painful interview took place after breakfast. Now he began to waver. Didn't you see the notice?" . and glared. and waited. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. by the way. One would have felt. But logic is of no use. he felt. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. would be bad enough. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. It was time. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. that Mike. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. inconvenienced--in short. Make the rest of the team fag about. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. yes. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. Mike thought he would take another minute. looking at him. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. One simply lies there.

you think you can do what you like. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. you do. Just because you've got your second. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. "Do--you--see. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. He mentioned this. this. That's got nothing to do with it. young man. Happy thought: over-slept himself. "Six!" "Five past.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. did you? Well. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. "Then you frightful kid. It was not according to his complicated. That's what you've got. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. See?" Mike said nothing." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again." said Mike indignantly. You've got swelled head." said Mike. as you please. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. and I'm captain of it. but he rather fancied not. The rather large grain of truth in what . I've had my eye on you for some time. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment." "I don't. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. you went to sleep again. "Yes. Awfully embarrassing. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. just listen to me. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. You think the place belongs to you. Frightful swelled head. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. The point is that you're one of the house team. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you." said the Gazeka shrilly." "Oh. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. and I've seen it coming on. turn up or not.

Firby-Smith had said had gone home. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. What one really wants here is a row of stars. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. and surveyed Mike. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. and his feelings were hurt. Always at it. brandishing a jug of water and a glass." he said. I didn't hit the bull every time. water will do. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. as he had nearly done once before. Very heady. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. and stared at a photograph on the wall. "Do you see?" he asked again. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. He set his teeth. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. and I suppose it always will be. Wyatt was worn out. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. "What's your trouble?" he asked. for a beaker full of the warm south. I'll go down and look. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech." He left the dormitory. If it's a broken heart. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back." . "Oh. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. "That's the cats. A-ah!" He put down the glass. full of the true. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. Well. but cheerful. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. Wyatt came back. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. Zam-buk's what you want. Failing that. Mike's jaw set more tightly. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more.

' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. and. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night." "What! Why?" "Oh." "I didn't turn up. I defy any one to. but. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . and." "Why?" "I don't know. He winked in a friendly way. There are some things you simply can't do." "In passing. "And why. you stick it on." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. "Such body. 'Jackson. while I get dropped on if I break out. my gentle che-ild. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it." "No. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. It's too early in the morning. look here. that 'ere is." "I like you jawing about discipline. If he's captain." said Mike morosely. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. putting down the jug. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. "I say. you'll have a rotten time here. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. "Nothing like this old '87 water. and say. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. really."He said I stuck on side. Cheers from the audience. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. 'Talking of side. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. a word in your ear. I don't know. you've got to obey him. Otherwise." "I mean. drew a deep breath. You stick on side. silent natures. That's discipline.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say." he said. blood as you are at cricket. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. The speaker then paused.

of which so much is talked and written. When you're a white-haired old man like me. That night. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. the other you mustn't ever break. young Jackson. I don't know why. for the first time in his life. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. . I thank you. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. but it isn't done. but each played each. If Wyatt. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. if possible. and Wilborough formed a group. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. and St. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. Ripton. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules." Mike made no reply. rather. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. Wrykyn. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. Until you learn that. Harrow. but it generally did. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. Paul's are a third. or. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. before the Ripton match. "me." he concluded modestly. would go down before Wilborough. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. Eton. That was the match with Ripton. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten.saying--just so. His feelings were curiously mixed. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. most forms of law and order. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. Dulwich. In this way. having beaten Ripton. cheerful disregard of. really meant. as far as games are concerned. Geddington. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. But this did not happen often. About my breaking out. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. or Wrykyn. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. There was no actual championship competition. Haileybury. Tonbridge. He would have perished rather than admit it.

The more he thought of it. There were two vacancies. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. he would have kept Bob In. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. * * * * * When school was over. From small causes great events do spring. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. In case of accident. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. engrossed in his book. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. With him at short slip. If he could have pleased himself. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. He could write it after tea. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. It was a difficult catch. but he was steady. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession." said Burgess. He had fairly earned his place. he postponed the thing. "Well held. and biz is biz. But. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. and held it. And.Burgess. . and he hated to have to do it. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. and Mr. feeling that life was good. there was a week before the match. as the poet has it. Spence. Finally he had consulted Mr. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. and he had done well in the earlier matches. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. accordingly. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. As it was. "Pleasure is pleasure." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Spence had voted for Mike. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. The report was more than favourable. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. One gave him no trouble. and sprint. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. the sorrier he was for him. Bob got to it with one hand. After all.

" said Bob." "I've just been to the Infirmary. "What's up?" inquired Burgess." said Bob awkwardly. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. and so he proceeded to tell . He'll be able to play on Saturday. There are many kinds of walk. It was decidedly a blow. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. it may be mentioned. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. but it's all right. "Young Jackson. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. towards the end of the evening. "I couldn't get both hands to it. of course." "Easy when you're only practising." he explained. He was glad for the sake of the school. but one has one's personal ambitions. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. and became the cricket captain again." There was." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. do you mean? Oh. He suppressed his personal feelings. as who should say. Firby-Smith. Burgess passed on." "Oh. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. "You're hot stuff in the deep. his mind full of Bob once more. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. did not enter his mind. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. What hard luck it was! There was he. "This way for Iron Wills. nothing." "Good. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense."Hullo. and all the time the team was filled up. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. That Burgess would feel. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. It was the cricket captain who. on being told of Mike's slackness. in fact." said the Gazeka.

that looked less like an M. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. than the one on that list. there had never been an R. As he stared. There was no possibility of mistake. Bob stared after him. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. Bob. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. going out. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. as he was rather late. met Bob coming in. therefore. "Congratulate you." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . * * * * * When. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. Bob had beaten him on the tape. Trevor came out of the block. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. "Congratulate you. Bob. hurrying. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. Since writing was invented. "Hard luck!" said somebody. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. and passed on." he said. He looked at the paper. Mike scarcely heard in detail.

while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears." said Mike. "I believe there's a mistake. feeling very ill." "Hope so. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. "Thanks awfully. "Anyhow." "Well. Not much in it. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike." he said awkwardly. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. if you want to read it. There was a short silence. They moved slowly through the cloisters. next year seems a very. Just then. When one has missed one's colours. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. No reason why he shouldn't. "Congratulate you. This was no place for him. very long way off. Here it is. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews." "No. "Got a letter from mother this morning. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease." ." said Mike." The thing seemed incredible. I'm not. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. neither speaking. delicately. I showed you the last one. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. Bob." "Thanks. with equal awkwardness."Seen what?" "Why the list. you'll have three years in the first." "My--what? you're rotting. Mike. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. You've got your first. Trevor moved on. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. it's jolly rummy. as the post was late. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. Go and look. came down the steps. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation." said Bob. You're a cert. and Burgess agree with him. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. It'll be something to do during Math. for next year. "Jolly glad you've got it.

Mike heard the words "English Essay. for the first time in her life." said Mike amiably. and went up to the headmaster. Haven't had time to look at it yet." "No.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. "Got that letter?" "Yes." Mike resented the tone. A brief spell of agony. Mike was. These things are like kicks on the shin. with some surprise." "Why not here?" "Come on. I'll show it you outside. it's for me all right. and Mike noticed. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. that. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. but followed. Bob appeared curiously agitated. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it." and. He looked round. I'll give it you in the interval. "What's up?" asked Mike. but it was lessened. As they went out on the gravel. somebody congratulated Bob again. he stopped. and. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. "Hullo." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it."Marjory wrote. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. even an irritated look. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. there appeared on his face a worried. too. The disappointment was still there." he said. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. as it were. When they had left the crowd behind. He seemed to have something on his mind. sitting up and taking nourishment. seeing Mike. seeing that the conversation was . and which in time disappears altogether. "Read that." "After you.

it will be all through Mike. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two.-"I hope you are quite well.S. Phyllis has a cold. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang.--This has been a frightful fag to write. with a style of her own. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday.P. and it's _the_ match of the season. Reggie made a duck. Have you got your first? If you have. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. it . He put the missive in his pocket. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. Why don't you do that? "M." There followed a P. Bob had had cause to look worried. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. lead up to it. She was jolly sick about it. Well. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. He read it during school. I am quite well. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. She was a breezy correspondent. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him.apparently going to be one of some length.S. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. I told her it served her right. capped the headmaster and walked off. and display it to the best advantage. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. "P. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. "I'll tell you what you ought to do." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. and ceased to wonder. under the desk. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind.

and all that." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. and would insist on having a look at my arm.. he might at least have whispered them.. "Well?" said Bob. If he was going to let out things like that. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. "Of course." said Mike." "I didn't think you'd ever know.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. is it all rot." . "How do you mean?" said Mike. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. They met at the nets. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him." he broke off hotly. Still. I don't know. "Did you read it?" "Yes. "I did. "I mean. that's how it was. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. I suppose I am." he said at last. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. He came down when you were away at Geddington. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. The team was filled up. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. Bob couldn't do much. Marjory meant well. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. but she had put her foot right in it. "I know I ought to be grateful. So it came out. and Burgess was not likely to alter it. Besides. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way.. I couldn't choke him off. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it." "Well. You know. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. it was beastly awkward.

You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. The sensible man realises this. and slides out of such situations. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny." added Mike." said Bob to himself. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. but it never does any good. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. sixty feet from the ground." "I'm hanged if it is." Mike said." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. I decide to remain here. and happened to doze." he said." Which he did. simply to think no more about them. finding this impossible. when he awoke. admitting himself beaten. Half a second. "I must see Burgess about it." He sidled off. but. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. Or. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. "Well. it's all over now. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. This is Philosophy. and it grew so rapidly that. He thought he would go home. "I shall get in next year all right. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. "Besides. if one does not do that. . "Anyhow. Others try to grapple with them. When affairs get into a real tangle." "What about it?" "Well. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. anyhow. who sat down on an acorn one day." "Oh. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. and had a not unpleasant time. he altered his plans. well. He looked helplessly at Mike. "Well. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right."I don't remember.

" said Bob." . At which period he remarked a rum business. I could easily fake up some excuse. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. but why should you do anything? You're all right. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. Bob should have done so. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. in it. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. "Still.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. Besides. might find some way of making things right for everybody. "I suppose you can't very well. and here you _are_. "But I must do something." "I do. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. at the moment. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. Though. These things. And Burgess. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. if they are to be done at school. after Mike's fashion. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. now it's up. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. have to be carried through stealthily. of course. and took the line of least resistance. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. It's me. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. Tell you what. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. seeing that the point is. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. though. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling." Bob agreed. It's not your fault. confessed to the same to solve the problem. I don't know if it's occurred to you. It would not be in the picture. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. like the man in the oak-tree. Very sporting of your brother and all that. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head. if possible. You simply keep on saying you're all right. Imitate this man. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. in council. consulted on the point. what you say doesn't help us out much. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one.

I feel like--I don't know what. expansive grin." said Burgess. if you don't look out. with a brilliant display of front teeth. and then the top of your head'll come off. whatever happens." "He isn't so keen. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his." "Mind the step." "I don't care."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. if that's any good to you. That slight smile of yours will meet behind." "I'll tell you what you look like. "Thanks." "Anyhow. I've got my first." said Neville-Smith. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. So you see how it is. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. At any rate. but supposing you had. all right. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. that's why you've got your first instead of him." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. he did tell me." said Bob. so out he went. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. but a slack field wants skinning. as the Greek exercise books say. He's a young slacker. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board." "Well. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . Not that you did. thanks for reminding me. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "Oh." "What do you mean?" "Fielding.. A bad field's bad enough. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. As the distance between them lessened. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. If you really want to know." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. Wyatt. So long. You sweated away. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say.

After all. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. Clephane have at home in honour of my getting my first." "You _will_ turn up." "The school is going to the dogs. if you like. We shall have rather a rag. anyhow it's to-night." "Good man. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. All the servants'll have gone to bed." "But one or two day-boys are coming. can't you?" "Delighted." "Yes." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. for one. It's just above the porch. eleven'll do me all right. Make it a bit earlier. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. I needn't throw a brick. a sudden compunction seized upon ." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. You can roll up. You'll see the window of my room." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. which I have--well. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. I shall manage it. I'm going to get the things now." As Wyatt was turning away. Heave a pebble at it. Still. I get on very well. if I did." "Said it wasn't good enough." "The race is degenerating." "So will the glass--with a run. and I'll come down. And Beverley. Still. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. It'll be the only one lighted up." "No. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. They all funked it. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. I expect. for goodness sake. nor iron bars a cage.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do.

"Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. Ginger-beer will flow like water." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. If so. and the wall by the ." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. He called him back. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that." "I shall do my little best not to be.Neville-Smith. I've used all mine. do you? I mean. I don't know if he keeps a dog." "Don't go getting caught." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. "Don't you worry about me. you don't think it's too risky. we must make the best of things. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. but he did not state his view of the case. that's all right. "What's up?" he asked. Rather tricky work." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. No expense has been spared." said Wyatt. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. I've got to climb two garden walls. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. "but this is the maddest. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. Still. merriest day of all the glad New Year. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row." "Oh. though. getting back. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. They've no thought for people's convenience here. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. APPLEBY "You may not know it. you always are breaking out at night." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. "I say. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten.

"What a night!" he said to himself. which had suffered on the two walls. ran lightly across it. Much better have flowers. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. for instance. Appleby. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. but the room had got hot and stuffy. and let himself out of the back door. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. They were all dark. From here he could see the long garden. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. it is true. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises.potting-shed was a feline club-house. Then he decided on the latter. The window of his study was open. Appleby. This was the route which he took to-night. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. true. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. and get a decent show for one's money in . the master who had the house next to Mr. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. At present there remained much to be done. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. He was fond of his garden. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. dusted his trousers. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. Wain's. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. He was in plenty of time. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. There was a full moon. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. Crossing this. he climbed another wall. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. There he paused. sniffing as he walked. and was in the lane within a minute. It was a glorious July night. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. whatever you did to it. Why not.

he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. As he dropped into the lane. He paused. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. Appleby had left his chair. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. with the aid of the moonlight. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. He knew that there were times when a master might. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. through the headmaster. He went his way openly.summer at any rate. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. The surprise. bade him forget the episode. close his eyes or look the other way. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. he had recognised him. on hands and knees. As far as he could see. the extent of the damage done. Sentiment. but he may use his discretion. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. and rose to his feet. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. Mr. . it was not serious. of course. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. however. Appleby. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. He always played the game. liked and respected by boys and masters. and remember that he is in a position of trust. Breaking out at night. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. He receives a salary for doing this duty. treat it as if it had never happened. wondering how he should act. was a different thing altogether. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. It was on another plane. With a sigh of relief Mr. and. he would have done so. and indirectly. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. to the parents. Appleby. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. without blame. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. Appleby that first awoke to action. examining. It was not an easy question.

He turned down his lamp. Appleby. if you don't mind. in the middle of which stood Mr. He could not let the matter rest where it was. Appleby." began Mr. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers." said Mr. Wain. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers." And. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. He tapped on the window. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. "I'll smoke. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. like a sea-beast among rocks. I'll climb in through here. About Wyatt. Mr. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. only it's something important. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. The blind shot up." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. and squeezed through into the room. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. Wain. Exceedingly so. and walked round to Wain's. Mr. greatly to Mr. I'm afraid. Appleby came over his relighted pipe." "Sorry." Mr. "Can I have a word with you. Mr. The thing still rankled. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. . Wain?" he said. but they would have to wait. "Wouldn't have disturbed you.This was the conclusion to which Mr. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. shall I? No need to unlock the door.

" "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. He had taken the only possible course. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. If you come to think of it." "He's not there now. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. this is most extraordinary. He was wondering what would happen." "I will. It isn't like an ordinary case. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. That is certainly the course I should pursue. You can deal with the thing directly. Sorry to have disturbed you. It's like daylight out of doors. "A good deal. He would have no choice. "Let's leave it at that. You're the parent. Why. and have it out with him. then. That is a very good idea of yours. sit down." "You must have been mistaken. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. and. Tackle the boy when he comes in." "Possibly. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." said Mr. "What shall I do?" Mr." "Good-night. Appleby." "So was I. Dear me. He hoped ." "I don't see why." "There is certainly something in what you say." "No." said Mr. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. Yes. Appleby. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. "I ought to report it to the headmaster." Mr. Appleby. You are quite right. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind."James! In your garden! Impossible. Appleby. I am astonished. Appleby offered no suggestion. Exceedingly so." Mr. Good-night. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. a little nettled. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory." "You astound me. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. You are not going?" "Must. Wain on reflection." "Bars can be removed. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers.

. Appleby had been right. Mr. If he had gone out. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. But the other bed was empty. and the night was warm. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. he felt. This breaking-out. Mike was there. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. so much as an exasperated. Mr. broken by various small encounters. It was not all roses. it was true. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. It would be a thousand pities. pondering over the news he had heard. was the last straw. by silent but mutual agreement. if he were to be expelled. he would hardly have returned yet. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. It was not. the life of an assistant master at a public school. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. He liked Wyatt. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. and walked quietly upstairs. a sorrowful. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. The light of the candle fell on both beds. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty.. If further proof had been needed. Lately. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. . they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. as a complete nuisance. He took a candle. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. He grunted. and nothing else.they would not. and then consider the episode closed. Wyatt he had regarded. He had been working hard.. and waited there in the semi-darkness. asleep. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up.. therefore.. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. thinking. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. He blew the candle out. least of all in those many years younger than himself. he reflected wrathfully.. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. one of the bars was missing from the window. The moon shone in through the empty space. Mr. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. Nor did he easily grow fond of others.

Mr. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. Jackson. immediately." snapped the house-master. and that immediately. Wain relit his candle. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. At that moment Mr.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. and rubbed his hands together. asking them to receive his step-son at once. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. But he should leave. father!" he said pleasantly. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. There was literally no way out. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. "Hullo!" said Mike. "James!" said Mr. "Hullo. Wain. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. . but could hear nothing. Wyatt should not be expelled. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. as the house-master shifted his position. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. His voice sounded ominously hollow. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. Mike saw him start. Then he seemed to recover himself. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. Wyatt dusted his knees. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. is that you. "Go to sleep. The time had come to put an end to it. He lay down again without a word. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. and the letter should go by the first post next day.

and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. Mike began to get alarmed. it's awful. Wyatt!" said Mike. I suppose. I say." "I got a bit of a start myself. rolling with laughter. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. "I say. do you think?" "Ah. I say. The swift and sudden boot. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. "But." said Wyatt at last. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. About an hour. sir. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here." "What'll he do. Speaking at a venture. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. Follow me there. "You have been out. it seemed a long silence. "I am astonished. Suppose I'd better go down. sir. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot.' We . Exceedingly astonished." He left the room. "Yes." "Yes. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. really. speaking with difficulty. Then Mr. Me sweating to get in quietly. He flung himself down on his bed. To Mike. Wain spoke. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. what!" "But. "I shall talk to you in my study." said Wyatt. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. now. "It's all right. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. "That reminds me.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. I shall be sorry to part with you. my little Hyacinth." said Wyatt. holding his breath. lying in bed.

" he said." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back." Mr. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_." "This is an exceedingly serious matter." explained Wyatt. Mr. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. I suppose I'd better go down." "And. Don't go to sleep. Wain jumped nervously. "It slipped. sir. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. "Well. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. may I inquire." "Not likely. sir. out of the house. I follow. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. This is my Moscow." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. "Well?" "I haven't one. then." "What?" "Yes." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. Where are me slippers? Ha. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. 'tis well! Lead on." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . That'll be me." * * * * * In the study Mr. and began to tap the table. "Sit down. Well. James. choking sob. sir. James?" Wyatt said nothing. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. Wain took up a pen. sir. minions. "Exceedingly. Wyatt sat down.shall meet at Philippi. "Only my slipper. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter.

approvingly. James. . "It is expulsion. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected." continued Mr. ignoring the interruption. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. but this is a far more serious matter. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. and resumed the thread of his discourse. It is not fitting. In a minute or two he would be asleep. Exceedingly so. Wain suspended tapping operations." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. At once. "As you know. exceedingly. You must leave the school. even were I disposed to do so. father. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. Only it _was_ sending me off. Wain." "I need hardly say. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately." Mr. sir. I mean." Wyatt nodded." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. "I wish you wouldn't do that. It's sending me to sleep. watching it." "Of course. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. It is impossible for me to overlook it. Wyatt. James.motor-car. Do you understand? That is all. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No." said Wyatt." said Wyatt laconically. "I am sorry. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. Tap like that. to see this attitude in you. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. You will not go to school to-morrow.

" Mike was miserably silent. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. . father. was for his team. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. He isn't coming to school again. "What happened?" "We chatted. as befitted a good cricket captain." Burgess's first thought. Burgess came up. yes. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. "Buck up. but it failed to comfort him. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. and began to undress. or some rot."No. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. was in great request as an informant. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. I shoot off almost immediately. here you are." he said. all amongst the ink and ledgers. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. as an actual spectator of the drama. "Oh." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun." "What? When?" "He's left already. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. he's got to leave. Wain were public property. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. Mike. "Anybody seen young--oh." said Wyatt cheerfully.

" "I should like to say good-bye. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. though!" he added after a pause. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. withdrawn. young Jackson. without enthusiasm. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. As a matter of fact."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command." "All right. "Hullo." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. I expect." said Mike. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. "All the same. during the night. They met in the cloisters. and he's taken him away from the school. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. "I say. however. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. Not unless he comes to the dorm. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. There was. Wyatt was his best friend. Mike!" said Bob. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . Bob was the next to interview him. You know. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. you see. that's the part he bars most." agreed Mike. Hope he does. Look here. You'll play on Saturday. last night after Neville-Smith's. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. one exception to the general rule." "He'll find it rather a change. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. his pal." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. anyway. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket." continued Burgess.

That's all. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School." . What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. Well." "Oh. "It was all my fault. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. "I say. with a forced and grisly calm. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. "Nothing much. as far as I can see." said Mike. Jackson. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone." he said at length. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. Bob. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. "Only that." said Burgess. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. plunged in meditation. "It was absolutely my fault. this wouldn't have happened. In extra on Saturday. where Mike left him. I don't know. Only our first. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. way. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. "What's up?" asked Bob. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven." "Neville-Smith! Why. by the way. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. "If it hadn't been for me. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. They walked on without further Wain's gate.

putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. I'll write to father to-night. Jolly hot team of M. Bob went on his way to the nets. "I say."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. And he can ride." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. I've thought of something. made. I may hold a catch for a change. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. I know. who believed in taking no chances. All these things seemed to show that Mr. that's to say. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. They whacked the M." "By Jove. Like Mr." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. If it comes off. "Very." said Bob." "By Jove. It's about Wyatt. So Mr. his father had gone over there for a visit. He's a jolly good shot. where countless sheep lived and had their being. he had a partner. Wain's dressing-room. Mike was just putting on his pads. presumably on business. "I wanted to see you." Burgess grunted. for lack of anything better to say. or was being. He never chucked the show altogether. the Argentine Republic.C." "Oh. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. . Mike. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. he'd jump at anything. did he?" Mike. He must be able to work it. glad to be there again. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. As a matter of fact. three years ago.C. and once. I should think. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. Spenlow.C. Stronger than the one we drew with. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. from all accounts. as most other boys of his age would have been. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. too. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. to start with. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches.C. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. well.

Mr. but to the point. which had run as follows: "Mr. sir. Racquets?" "Yes. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger.. sir." After which a Mr. In any case he would buy him a lunch." "H'm .. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. but that. sir. Wyatt?" "Yes. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. Wyatt's letter was longer.. He said that he hoped something could be managed." "Cricketer?" "Yes. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. by a Beginner. sir. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. you won't get any more of it now. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. These letters he would then stamp. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit." "Everything?" "Yes." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. and subsequently take in bundles to the . It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs.. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability.. Jackson's letter was short. sir." "Play football?" "Yes.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. Well. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week." "H'm . Sportsman?" "Yes.." "H'm . sir.

Mind you make a century. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. To do only averagely well. It had stopped late at night. by J. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground.C. sir. "I should cook the accounts. At eleven-thirty." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. It was a day on which to win the toss. "Just what I was thinking. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. But it doesn't seem in my line. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after office. Honours were heaped upon him. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. this. if I were you. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. and go in first." wrote Wyatt. as a member of the staff. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. Burgess. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. "Or even Wyatt. There were twelve colours given three years ago. Even twenty. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. was not slow to recognise this fact. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. if it got the school out of a tight place." said Burgess. to be among the ruck. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. Burgess. "I should win the toss to-day. when the match was timed to begin. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting.C. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. Spence." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. if the sun comes out. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. inspecting the wicket with Mr. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. "Who will go on first with you. 'Hints for Young Criminals. Burgess?" . I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. I suppose. match. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. would be as useless as not playing at all. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. Still. Spence. as far as his chance of his first was concerned." said Mr. The Ripton match was a special event.' which is a sort of start. Wyatt. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. It would just suit him.' So long." Mr.

"It's awfully good of you to suggest it. He wasn't in the team last year. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. He was crocked when they came here." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow." "Well. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling." "Heads. I think. And. Plays racquets for them too. so I was bound to win to-day. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. I don't know of him." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. and comes in instead. On a dry. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. Mac." said Burgess ruefully. This end. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. He's a pretty useful chap all round. were old acquaintances. of the Bosanquet type." "I don't think a lot of that. "It's a nuisance too." "I should." "Tails it is." said Maclaine. Looks as if it were going away." "You'll put us in." "Oh. You call. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. it might have been all right. "but I think we'll toss. Ellerby. A boy called de Freece. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this." "I know the chap. about our batting." said Burgess." said Burgess. The other's yours. that's a . If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. "We'll go in first. "Certainly. well. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip." "I must win the toss. It's a hobby of mine."Who do you think. win the toss. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. "One consolation is. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. though. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. I've lost the toss five times running. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. above all. the Ripton captain. They had been at the same private school. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. I believe. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball.

So Ripton went in to hit. as also happened now. Buck up and send some one in." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. The pitch had begun to play tricks. Dashing tactics were laid aside. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. held it. The score mounted rapidly. as he would want the field paved with it. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. seventy-four for three wickets. run out. as it did on this occasion. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. as it generally does. and was certain to get worse. which was now shining brightly. he was compelled to tread cautiously. The sun. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. and Bob. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. They plodded on. but which did not always break. Another hour of play remained before lunch. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. Burgess began to look happier. gave place to Grant. Twenty came in ten minutes.comfort. Then . Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. The change worked. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. At sixty Ellerby. They meant to force the game. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. but the score. but it means that wickets will fall. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. Burgess. The policy proved successful for a time. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. and let's get at you. Maclaine. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five.

the slow bowler. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. and his one hit. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. when the wicket is bad. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. Just a ball or two to the last man. Every run was invaluable now. A four and a three to de Freece. He had made twenty-eight. So far it was anybody's game. The last man had just gone to the wickets. when a quarter to two arrived. for the last ten minutes. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. came off with distressing frequency.Ellerby. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. the ten minutes before lunch. as they walked . it was not straight. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. swiping at it with a bright smile. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. His record score. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. who had gone on again instead of Grant. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. when Ellerby. a semicircular stroke. and with it the luncheon interval. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. And when he bowled a straight ball. missed his second. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. found his leg-stump knocked back. medium-paced yorker. but he had also a very accurate eye. it was not a yorker. did what Burgess had failed to do. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. That period which is always so dangerous. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. they resent it. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. and it will be their turn to bat. The other batsman played out the over. he explained to Mike. and de Freece. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. He bowled a straight. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch.

And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. But ordinary standards would not apply here. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. when done." he the pavilion. for this or any ground. . For goodness sake. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. He breaks like sin all over the shop. "Morris is out. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. and make for the pavilion. A grim determination to do their best.-w. rather than confidence that their best. and not your legs. But Berridge survived the ordeal. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. Berry? He doesn't always break. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven." said Burgess blankly. "It's that googly man. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. Morris was the tenth case. but it didn't. "That chap'll have Berry." said Burgess helpfully. The tragedy started with the very first ball. would be anything record-breaking. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. Berridge. He thought it was all right.-b. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. hard condition. On a bad wicket--well. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No.-b. if he doesn't look out." "Hear that. stick a bat in the way. Berry. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. It would have been a gentle canter for them. "Thought the thing was going to break. he said. You must look out for that. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket.-w." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. Hullo. First ball. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. "L.

we might have a chance. and took off his blazer. With the score Freece. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. he isn't. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. No. He got up. Bob's out!. if we can only stay in. He started to play forward. "The only thing is. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's." said Ellerby. but this the next ball. He was in after Bob. The voice of the scorer. The wicket'll get better. Mike nodded. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions." he said. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. Last man duck. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. "This is all right. he was smartly at thirty. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. By George.. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. Mike was silent and thoughtful. jumping out to drive. Bob was the next man in. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board.. "One for two. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. Ten for two was not good. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. stumped." . and the second tragedy occurred. "It's getting trickier every minute. He sent them down medium-pace. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. and scoring a couple of twos off it. He had then. but it was considerably better than one for two. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. Ellerby took off his pads. The last of the over had him in two minds. The cloud began to settle again. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride.This brought Marsh to the batting end." Ellerby echoed the remark. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. broke it.

" said Ellerby. "Forty-one for four. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain." "All right. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. But now his feelings were different. had fumbled the ball.C. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. which was repeated. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets.C. Mike. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. _fortissimo_.. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. as if it were some one else's. He came to where Mike was sitting. The melancholy youth put up the figures. the batsmen crossed. I believe we might win yet. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. 5. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. and try and knock that man de Freece off. as Ellerby had done. There was no sense of individuality. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. A howl of delight went up from the school. "Good man. when. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved." said Ellerby." "Bob's broken his egg. When he had gone out to bat against the M." said Mike." said Ellerby. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. Every little helps. more by accident than by accurate timing. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. He was cool. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. and had nearly met the same fate. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. Jackson. If only somebody would knock him off his length. however." he said. . the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist.. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. "That's the way I was had.. "I'm going to shove you down one. on the board.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. you silly ass." said Mike. Berridge was out by a yard. 12. 54. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. The wicket-keeper. Oh." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess.

And Mike took after Joe. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. and not short enough to take liberties with. It has nothing. or very little. that he was at the top of his batting form. but this time off the off-stump. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way.-b. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. considering his pace. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. and he had smothered them. a comfortable three. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. But something seemed to whisper to him. and hit it before it had time to break. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. The next ball was of the same length. finer players. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. apparently. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. as he settled himself to face the bowler. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. The ball hit his right pad. . The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. and stepped back. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. He felt that he knew where he was now. He knew what to do now. in school matches. The umpire shook his head. Indeed. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. Mike had faced half-left. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. It pitched slightly to leg.-w. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. Joe would be in his element. De Freece said nothing. to do with actual health. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. and whipped in quickly. They had been well pitched up. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were.Fitness. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. Mike jumped out.

the next man in. But Mike did not get out.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. He might possibly get out off his next ball. he made a lot of runs. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. to a hundred. "Sixty up. thence to ninety. It was a long-hop on the off. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. Henfrey. He had made twenty-six." "You ass. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. In the present case. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. which had not been much in evidence hitherto." said Ellerby. Practically they had only one. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. nor Grant. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. but he was full of that conviction. for neither Ashe. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. in the pavilion. And. or he's certain to get out. "Don't say that. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. mainly by singles. (Two years later." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. the score mounted to eighty. a half-volley to leg. Mike could see him licking his lips. he lifted over the other boundary. but he was uncertain. however. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. At a hundred and four. was a promising rather than an effective bat. and so. For himself he had no fear now. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. that this was his day. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. He had an excellent style. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. He survived an over from de Freece. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. To-day he never looked like settling down. The last ball of the over. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. and made twenty-one. and de Freece's pet googly. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence." said Berridge. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. Apparently. There was nervousness written all over him. His departure upset the scheme of things. and the wicket was getting easier. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. . when he captained the Wrykyn teams.

Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. As it was. . Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. Could he go up to him and explain that he. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. The fast bowler. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. But it was going to be done." shouted Grant." said Mike. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. and a school prefect to boot. Jackson. but this happened now. but even so. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. But the sixth was of a different kind. The next over was doubly sensational. he stopped it.. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. But he did not score. "Over. Another fraction of a second. "For goodness sake." he whispered. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at.. taken up a moment later all round the ground. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. "collar the bowling all you know. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. announced that he had reached his fifty. and it was possible to take liberties. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs.. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. Forty to win! A large order. It rolled in the direction of third man. The last ball of the over he mishit. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. or we're done. and he would have been run out.He was not kept long in suspense. The wicket was almost true again now. But each time luck was with him. it all but got through Mike's defence." said the umpire. A distant clapping from the pavilion. and set his teeth. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. Mike took them. I shall get outed first ball." "All right. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. was well-meaning but erratic. "Come on.

but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. Grant looked embarrassed. The school broke into one great howl of joy. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. It was young Jackson." "The funny part of it is. A bail fell silently to the ground. I say. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. and rolled back down the pitch. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. Mike's knees trembled." said Maclaine. He bowled rippingly. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. Mike had got the bowling." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. For four balls he baffled the attack. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. and the bowling was not de Freece's. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. A great stillness was over all the ground. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many." said Maclaine. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. rough luck on de Freece. * * * * * "Good game." continued he. The next moment the crisis was past." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. and touched the off-stump. There were still seven runs between them and victory. but determined. Point and the slips crowded round. The fifth curled round his bat.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. by the way?" "Eighty-three. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. It was an awe-inspiring moment. Brother of the other one.

including Gladys Maud. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. but was headed off. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee." said Phyllis. The hour being nine-fifteen. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk." said Ella. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. "There's a letter from Wyatt. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. Mike read on. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis." said Marjory. The rest." He opened the letter and began to read. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. through the bread-and-milk." added Phyllis." . "Is there?" said Mike. conversationally." "I wish Mike would come and open it. "Sorry I'm late. Jackson) had resulted.It was a morning in the middle of September. "He gives no details. in a victory for Marjory. Mike." "With a bushranger. Mike's place was still empty." she shouted. "Bushrangers. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. but expects to be fit again shortly. who had duly secured the stakes. Mrs. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. Jackson. "Bush-ray. bush-ray. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them." said Mr. had settled down to serious work. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. Mr. bush-ray. The Jacksons were breakfasting. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep." explained Gladys Maud." began Gladys Maud. Jackson was reading letters. "Buck up. "Bush-ray. referred to in a previous chapter. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. interested. He's been wounded in a duel.

and tooled after him. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. and coming back. "Anyhow. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder.. an Old Wykehamist. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. He fired as we came up. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy... the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. pulled out our revolvers. That's the painful story. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. and it was any money on the Gaucho. he wanted to ride through our place. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. which has crocked me for the time being." said Marjory. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. and I were dipping sheep close by." said Phyllis. "No. Here you are. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price.. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on.. a good chap who can't help being ugly. proceeded to cut the fence. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. So this rotter. "I told you it was a duel. it was practically a bushranger. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. and go through that way. and loosed off. I picked it up. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. This is what he says. Only potted him in the leg. so he came to us and told us what had happened. and missed him clean every time. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. Missed the first shot. A chap called Chester. and so it was. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. Jackson." said Mike. I thought he was killed at first. I say. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. but it turned out it was only his leg. which had fallen just by where I came down. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. instead of shifting off. Hurt like sin afterwards. so I shall have to stop. Chester was unconscious. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. and that's when the trouble began. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here.. so excuse bad writing. It happened like this. After a bit we overtook him. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. and his day's work was done. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . Well. We nipped on to a couple of horses. Jackson. I got going then. summing up. and dropped poor old Chester.

and did the thing thoroughly. the meal was nearly over.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. It's the first I've had from Appleby. Mike." "He didn't mean it really. she would do it only as a favour. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you." said Marjory. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. "Hullo. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat." she said." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. even for Joe. "I say. Mr." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. though for the others." said Mike philosophically. She was fond of her other brothers. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. Father didn't say anything." "Have you? Thanks awfully. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. Blake used to write when you were in his form. Mike. "I'm a bit late. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. taking his correspondence with him. as Mr. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. looked on in a detached sort of way. He looked up interested." Marjory was bustling about. jumping up as he entered. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. that's a comfort. When he came down on this particular morning. as she always did. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. She had adopted him at an early age. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. Jackson had disappeared. "Your report came this morning. but Mike was her favourite. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket." Mike seemed concerned. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents." she said. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. Mrs. fetching and carrying for Mike. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." "No. as usual. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had." . But he was late. while Marjory. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face.

Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report." "Where?" "He's in the study. Saunders. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out.C. "Oh. As he was walking towards the house. Let's go and see." was his muttered exclamation.C. Mr. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. who treated his sons as companions. She was kept busy. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. "you'll make a century every match next term. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. Mike. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. Jackson was an understanding sort of man." "Saunders is a jolly good chap."What ho!" interpolated Mike." he said. I wonder if he's out at the net now. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. Phyllis met him. was not returning next term. on the arrival of Mr. but already he was beginning to find his form. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. "in a beastly wax. He had always had the style. "You _are_. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. Everybody says you are. father wants you." "What for?" "I don't know. and now he had the strength as well. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. was delighted. appalled by the fear of losing his form." "I wish I wasn't. He liked the prospect. It was early in the Easter holidays. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. indeed. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser." Henfrey. I've been hunting for you. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season." Mike's jaw fell slightly. He had filled out in three years. and Mike was to reign in his stead. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. By the way. Master Mike. minor match type. it's a beastly responsibility. Why. At night sometimes he would lie awake. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. From time to time. however. He seems--" added Phyllis.

Greek. "I want you to listen to this report. Jackson was a man of his word. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. with a sort of sickly interest." "Here are Mr. is that my report. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor." "'Mathematics bad." said his father. "Come in." Mike. not once.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket." "'Latin poor. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. Book Two.'" quoted Mr. what is more. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. "It is." replied Mr. he paused. "'French bad. "your report. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. therefore. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. skilled in omens. . which he declines to use in the smallest degree. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings.'" "We were doing Thucydides. both in and out of school. Jackson in measured tones.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. but on several occasions. that Jackson entered the study. scented a row in the offing. "I want to speak to you. It was on this occasion that Mr." "Oh." "Oh. and Mr. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. Mike. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. Jackson. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. father?" said Mike. very poor.previous term." said Mr. There followed an awkward silence. Inattentive and idle. kicking the waste-paper basket.'" "It wasn't anything really. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. "'His conduct. Jackson.

As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. He knew it would be useless." he said blankly. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. and Mr. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year." Mr. when he made up his mind. or their Eight to Bisley. spectacled youth who did not enter . He understood him. and for that reason he said very little now. "I shall abide by what I said. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. Mike?" said Mr. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. The tragedy had happened. but still blithely). Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. Jackson was sorry for Mike. Mike's point of view was plain to him. "It is not a large school." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat." Barlitt was the vicar's son. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. Mr. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye." Mike's heart thumped. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. Jackson." was his next remark. Mike said nothing. birds were twittering. and there was an end of it. perhaps. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence.' There is more to the same effect. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. pure and simple. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. Mr. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be." he said."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. a silent. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. He did not approve of it. He understood cricket. his father. but it has one merit--boys work there.

"It's a goodish step. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. Mike said nothing. and said. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. He disliked his voice. He hated the station. And." said Mike frigidly. "For the school. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. but not much conversation had ensued. sir. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. "Mr. He thought. opened the door. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side.very largely into Mike's world. sir. It was such . It's straight on up this road to the school. He walked off up the road. thanks. sir. seeing the name of the station. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. Also the boots he wore. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. so far from attempting to make the best of things. George!" "I'll walk." added Mr. sir. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. for instance. sir. Jackson. It's waiting here. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. Hi. Mike nodded. A sombre nod. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. "Young gents at the school. got up." "Worse luck. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. You can't miss it. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties." "Right. pulled up again. Barlitt's mind was massive. The future seemed wholly gloomy. Then he got out himself and looked about him. and the man who took his ticket. bustling up. his appearance. and the colour of his hair." "Thank you. sorrier for himself than ever. and Mike. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. sir." said Mike. sir. "So you're back from Moscow. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner." "Here you are." said the porter.

Outwood. who would be captain in his place. Wrykyn. Now it might never be used. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. Which was the bitter part of it. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. About now. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance.absolutely rotten luck. Outwood's. but he was not to be depended upon. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. the return by over sixty points. Once he crossed a river. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. Outwood's was the middle one of these. on top of all this. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. and had lost both the Ripton matches. would be weak this year. might make a century in an hour. "Jackson?" he said mildly. But it was not the same thing. And as captain of cricket. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. if he survived a few overs. from the top of a hill. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. Enderby. and. Mike went to the front door. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn." . The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. This must be Sedleigh. and was shown into a room lined with books. He inquired for Mr. "Yes." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. Outwood. free bat on his day. at that. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. Strachan was a good. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. There were three houses in a row. The football fifteen had been hopeless. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. going in first. too. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. And now. He had never been in command. and knocked. and the house-master appeared. but almost as good. Presently the door opened. sir. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. now that he was no longer there. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. Burgess. It was soon after this that he caught sight.

" he said. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. Quite so. But this room was occupied. where they probably played hopscotch. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. Personally. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. A very long. "Hullo. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. sir?" "What? Yes. Oh. My name." said Mike. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. yes. I understand. You come from Crofton. All alone in a strange school. with chamfered plinth. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike." he added pensively. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. his gloom visibly deepened. "is Smith. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. In many respects it is unique. and fixed it in his right eye. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. was leaning against the mantelpiece. he spoke. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. that's to say. As Mike entered." said the immaculate one. Ambrose. He strayed about. Jackson. thin youth. finding his bearings. said he had not. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. good-bye. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. It was a little hard. He spoke in a tired voice. I think you might like a cup of tea. Bishop Geoffrey. Jackson. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. then. Quite so. Jackson. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. A Nursery Garden in the Home. Good-bye for the present. That sort of idea. very glad indeed. What's yours?" ."I am very glad to see you. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. in Shropshire. It will well repay a visit. "Hullo. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. "Take a seat. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. standing quite free from the apse wall. You will find the matron in her room.

"My infancy. so I don't know.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. I was superannuated last term." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here." "No?" said Mike. Cp. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. I shall found a new dynasty. and see that I did not raise Cain. Sit down on yonder settee." said Psmith solemnly. the P not being sounded. everybody predicting a bright career for me. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. We now pass to my boyhood. Sedleigh gains. If you ever have occasion to write to me. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. and I don't care for Smythe. "No." "But why Sedleigh. At an early age. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass." "Bad luck. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. When I was but a babe." he resumed. "it was not to be. I was sent to Eton. "Let us start at the beginning. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. too. or simply Smith." said Mike. . But. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. See? There are too many Smiths. and got it. for choice. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. But what Eton loses. "Are you the Bully. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. By the way. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. before I start. yes. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington." "For Eton." said Mike. See?" Mike said he saw. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). there's just one thing. "but I've only just arrived. the name Zbysco. then?" "Yes! Why. the Pride of the School.

and so on. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. Outwood. To get off cricket. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire." "Wrykyn. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village." said Psmith. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. The son of the vicar. mark you." "And thereby. There's a libel action in every sentence. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something."That was the man. Jawed about apses and things. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. Cheer a little. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. His dislike for his new school was not diminished." said Psmith. "You have heard my painful story. Now tell me yours. And. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. run by him. "hangs a tale. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. We are practically long-lost brothers. You work for the equal distribution of property. we fall." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. You ought to be one. who told my father. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. It goes out on half-holidays. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. laddie." . Sheep that have gone astray. He could almost have embraced Psmith. together we may worry through. dusting his right trouser-leg. Divided. Comrade Jackson. but a bit too thick for me. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. Bit off his nut. who told our vicar. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday." "I am with you. We must stick together. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. We are companions in misfortune. will you? I've just become a Socialist. who told our curate. prowling about. The vicar told the curate. A noble game. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. It's a great scheme. Lost lambs.

But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. Above all. and have a jolly good time as well." said Psmith approvingly. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys." said Psmith. and a looking-glass. and do a bit on our own account." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. hand in hand. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. as it were. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. "'Tis well." They went upstairs. We must stake out our claims. "This'll do us well. This is practical Socialism. I suppose they have studies here. at any rate. we will go out of bounds. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. "Stout fellow. "is the exact programme. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. was one way of treating the situation. We shall thus improve our minds. "Might have been made for us." "It would take a lot to make me do that." said Mike. and one not without its meed of comfort. It was a biggish room." "Good idea. We will snare the elusive fossil together." said Mike. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. You and I. and get our names shoved down for the Society. and straightening his tie. A chap at Wrykyn." . hung on a nail."I'm not going to play here." he said. two empty bookcases. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. looking out over the school grounds." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other." "Then let's beat up a study." he said. Let's go and look. called Wyatt. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. "We will. Psmith approved the resolve. There were a couple of deal tables. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent." "Not now. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. Psmith opened the first of these. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native.

I had several bright things to say on the subject. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. though the idea was Psmith's. "The weed. There are moments when one wants to be alone." said Psmith."His misfortune." . That putrid calendar must come down. "You couldn't make a long arm. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. as he watched Mike light the Etna. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. "are the very dickens." said Psmith. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. And now. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs." said Psmith sympathetically. It's got an Etna and various things in it. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. We make progress. not ours. Similarly." "These school reports. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. I wonder. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out." said Mike. Do you think you could make a long arm. could you. Hullo. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. What's this. and begins to talk about himself. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. and a voice outside said. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports." A heavy body had plunged against the door. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. though. if you want to be really useful. sits down. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. was rather a critic than an executant." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. "Privacy. A rattling at the handle followed. the first thing you know is. We make progress." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. somebody comes right in. He was full of ideas.

and. and this is my study. all might have been well." "My name's Spiller." he repeated. Homely in appearance. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. it's beastly cheek. Edwin!' And so. perhaps. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. a people that know not Spiller. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. and said. on arrival. "What the dickens. Comrade Spiller. "It's beastly cheek." Psmith went to the table." said Psmith. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. that's what I call it. 'Edwin." said he. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. We keep open house. Your father held your hand and said huskily. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. and screamed. 'Don't go.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. "Well. freckled boy." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. practical order." inquired the newcomer. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. but one of us. "you stayed on till the later train. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. 'Edwin." "But we do." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece." said Psmith. we Psmiths. "It's beastly cheek.Mike unlocked the door. He went straight to the root of the matter. "to restore our tissues after our journey. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. Spiller evaded the question. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. we must be prepared for every emergency. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. you find strange faces in the familiar room. Come in and join us. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. It is unusual for people to go about the place . I am Psmith. deeply affected by his recital. A stout fellow. "In this life. put up his eyeglass. and flung it open." said Psmith. But no." said Psmith.

laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect." "Look here. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. and Simpson's left. and Jackson. Spiller." said Psmith." "Spiller's. and the other's the accelerator. "are you going to take? Spiller. Mr. "And Smith. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. Spiller.' Take the present case. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way." Mr. and we stopped dead. The thing comes on you as a surprise. Psmith particularly debonair. By no means a scaly project. the man of Logic.' So he stamped on the accelerator. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. let this be a lesson to you." The trio made their way to the Presence. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. He cannot cope with the situation. 'Now we'll let her rip. it's my study. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. Spiller. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed." said Psmith. and skidded into a ditch. of course. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point." "Not an unsound scheme. sir. "Ah.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. But what of Spiller. One's the foot-brake. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. and I'm next on the house list. He hummed lightly as he walked. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. As it is. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. Error! Ah. so." "But what steps. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once." he said. Mike sullen. 'I wouldn't. We may as well all go together. we know." "We'll see what Outwood says about it.bagging studies. It was Simpson's last term. you are unprepared.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. "All I know is.' he said. . I'm going to have it. Spiller pink and determined. 'I couldn't. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all.

Is there anything----" "Please." said Psmith sadly. Boys came readily at his call. Downing. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. We have a small Archaeological Society. were in the main earnest. "Yes. "Yes. Most delighted. Spiller. "I understand. Smith. Outwood beamed. not at all. Spiller. never had any difficulty in finding support. Mr. This enthusiasm is most capital." "There is no vice in Spiller. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. sir. Do you want to join." he said at last. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. too!" Mr. "One moment. Smith." Mr."Er--quite so. sir--" said Spiller. I--er--in a measure look after it. while his own band. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. "that accounts for it. "One moment. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday." "Please. Cricket and football. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." ." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. sir. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. sir. Smith. two miles from the school. sir--" began Spiller." "And Jackson's." "Please. A grand pursuit. sir. Smith. very pleased indeed. "I have been unable to induce to join. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times." said Psmith. quite so. games that left him cold. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." "Jackson." said Psmith. Archaeology fascinates me. sir. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. though small. This is capital." "Spiller. if you were not too busy. sir--" said Spiller. sir. I will put down your name at once. His colleague. I am very pleased. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. Smith?" "Intensely. sir. he is one of our oldest members." "Not at all. "His heart is the heart of a little child." pursued Psmith earnestly. Mr. "I am delighted." he said." "Undoubtedly." "Oh. tolerantly." "Ah. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band.

sir." said Mike. sir. "is your besetting fault. You should have spoken before. sir." "Yes." "Quite so." "Capital!" "Please." "Thank you very much. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. I come next after Simpson. "There is just one other matter. "One moment." He turned to Mr." "Quite so. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. as they closed the door. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday." "All this sort of thing. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. Spiller. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings." said Psmith. Quite so. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. Smith." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . sir--" said Spiller." said Psmith. Fight against it. very trying for a man of culture. Smith. "is very. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. Correct it." "Certainly. sir. Smith." he said." "But. sir. "This tendency to delay. Spiller. Edwin. sir. if you could spare the time. Spiller. of course. sir. An excellent arrangement. "Please. "We should. Outwood. Spiller." shouted Spiller."We shall be there." "Thank you very much. sir. A very good idea. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. sir. We will move our things in.

"There are few pleasures. as you rightly remark. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this. face the future for awhile." he said. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. Here we are in a stronghold. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. he would not have appreciated it properly." said Psmith. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. "We ought to have known each other before. and this time there followed a knocking. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. I don't like rows. there is nothing he can deny us. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. though." "_And_." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. they can only get at us through the door. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. We are as sons to him. we're all right while we stick here." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. but we must rout him out once more. "We will now." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man." said Psmith courteously." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. but we can't stay all night." "And jam a chair against it. "The difficulty is." he said with approval." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. "about when we leave this room. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. the door handle rattled again. jam a chair against it." As they got up. with your permission." Mike was finishing his tea." "The loss was mine. I say." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. I mean. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. . I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. and we can lock that. Comrade Jackson. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. Smith. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories.

"you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson." "Sturdy common sense." said Psmith." sighed Psmith. in his practical way. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. "I just came up to have a look at you. say. then?" asked Mike. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets." "Old Spiller." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." said Psmith approvingly. with." said Psmith. A light-haired youth with a cheerful." said Psmith. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room." giggled Jellicoe." Mike unlocked the door. "If you move a little to the left." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." said Psmith." "How many _will_ there be. not more. Do you happen to know of any snug little room." said Mike. for instance." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. only it belongs to three ." he explained." "As I suspected." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you. "He might get about half a dozen. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. "Let us parley with the man.

Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. Better leave the door open. crowding . A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. as the messenger departed." said Psmith. and some other chaps. The handle began to revolve again. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. if you would have any objection to Jackson. Ah. sir." This time it was a small boy. Smith. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." Mr. "Yes. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder." he said. "are beginning to move. but shall be delighted to see him up here. Smith." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. sir----" "Not at all. "That door." "And we can have the room. the others waited outside." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. as they returned to the study." "You make friends easily." "We were wondering. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. "We must apologise for disturbing you. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe.chaps. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. "has sprung up between Jackson." said Psmith. Comrade Spiller. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. Jellicoe and myself. I like to see it--I like to see it. it will save trouble. I think. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. Things. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. come in." he said. Smith?" he said." "And now.

." "You'll get it hot. if you don't. always. and then to stand by for the next attack. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. the enemy gave back. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action." cried Spiller suddenly. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. His was a simple and appreciative mind. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. Jellicoe giggled in the background. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. "A neat piece of work. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. but Mike had been watching. however. Mike jumped to help." A heavy body crashed against the door." said Mike. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. was just in time to see Psmith." said Psmith approvingly. the first shot has been fired." "We'll risk it. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. "Robinson. As Mike arrived. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. swung open. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. This time. "Who was our guest?" he asked. and the handle. the captive was already on the window-sill. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. the door." said Jellicoe. stepping into the room again. and Mike. "Look here. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key the doorway. slammed the door and locked it. "They'll have it down. but it was needless. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. Comrade Spiller. Mike. "Come on. The dogs of war are now loose. For a moment the doorway was blocked. was it? Well. instead of resisting. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. "We must act. I say." said Spiller. turning after re-locking the door. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. you chaps.

"There's no harm in going out. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects." Mike followed the advice. Spiller's face was crimson." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. they were first out of the room. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. we will play the fixture on our own ground. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility." said Psmith. "You'd better come out." said Mike.Somebody hammered on the door. I shouldn't think. but Psmith was in his element." "Leave us." A bell rang in the distance. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. you know. "we shall have to go now. we would be alone. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. leaning against the mantelpiece. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy." he said. but it can't go on. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. "is exciting. "Tea. When they had been in the study a few moments." "This. It read: "Directly this is over. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. Spiller." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. Well. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. and have it out?" said Mike. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. you'll only get it hotter if you don't." The passage was empty when they opened the door. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. Jellicoe knocked at the door. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. of course. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently." "They won't do anything till after tea." said Jellicoe. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. "No. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time." said Mike. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. and see what happens. .

and disappeared again. "only he won't. well-conducted establishment."Quite right. therefore. And now. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether." said Psmith. _ne pas_. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. As to the time when an attack might be expected." said Mike. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. We shall be glad of his moral support. . but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. where Robinson also had a bed. that human encyclopaedia. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. It was probable." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. Shall we be moving?" Mr. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. retiring at ten. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven." "Then I think. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous." said Psmith placidly." said Psmith. He never hears anything." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. "And touching. he'll simply sit tight. closing the door. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. deposed that Spiller. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. Mr." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter." said Jellicoe. "the matter of noise. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. as predicted by Jellicoe. they rag him. but otherwise.

listening." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. Comrade Jellicoe. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. He would then----" "I tell you what. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. too. There was a creaking sound. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. Mike was tired after his journey. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. Comrade Jackson. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. especially if. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. they may wait at the top of the steps. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. had heard the noise." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history." said Mike. There were three steps leading down to it. If they have no candle. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. waiting for him. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. but far otherwise. "we will retire to our posts and wait. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. which is close to the door. I always ask myself on these occasions. directly he heard the door-handle turned. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. Napoleon would have done that. . showed that Jellicoe. "Dashed neat!" he said. "These humane preparations being concluded. and a slight giggle. silence is essential."How about that door?" said Mike. If they have. too. Subject to your approval. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. as on this occasion. I have evolved the following plan of action. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo." said Psmith. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

"I don't like it. sir. a keen school. We want keenness here. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. sir. and walked on. "Excellent. Scarcely had he gone. sir." "I never loaf. When we heard that there was a society here. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. sir. the Archaeological Society here. Archaeology is a passion with us. "I saw Adair speaking to you. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. It gets him into idle. I want every boy to be keen. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. "Now _he's_ cross. both in manner and appearance. "If you choose to waste your time. Outwood last night. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. A short. We are. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. The more new blood we have. not wandering at large about the country.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees." sighed Psmith. I suppose I can't hinder you. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. I fear. "I was not alluding to you in particular." "A very wild lot." "Good job. we went singing about the house. looking after him." said Mr. to an excitable bullfinch. with fervour." Mr." "At any rate." said Psmith. nothing else. eh?" It was a master. I suppose you will both play. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. But in my opinion it is foolery. I like every new boy to begin at once. Comrade Outwood loves us. the better." Adair turned. shaking his head." He stumped off. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. too. sir. Let's go on and see what sort . I tell you I don't like it." said Psmith." "On archaeology." "We are." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. loafing habits." said Psmith. above all. I was referring to the principle of the thing. Downing vehemently.

and Stone was a good slow bowler. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. "I _will_ be good. Barnes. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. The batting was not so good. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. It was on a Thursday afternoon. after watching behind the nets once or twice. when the sun shone._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. He did not repeat the experiment. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. He was not a Burgess. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. were both fair batsmen. after . but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. mostly in Downing's house. Numbers do not make good cricket. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. What made it worse was that he saw. in his three years' experience of the school. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. Lead me to the nearest net. to begin with. was a very good bowler indeed. and Milton. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. Mike would have placed above him." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. the head of Outwood's. was a mild. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. Any sort of a game. It couldn't be done. There were other exponents of the game. and Wyatt. And now he positively ached for a game. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. Adair. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. by the law of averages. but there were some quite capable men. There were times. that swash-buckling pair. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. Altogether. Stone and Robinson themselves.

could stand it no longer. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet." he said." it may be observed. He looked up. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. "What?" he said. He patronised fossils. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. give me the pip. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. and brood apart for awhile. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. as he sat there watching. He was embarrassed and nervous. he would have patronised that. and he patronised ruins. He went up to Adair. More abruptly this time. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. Let us find some shady nook where a . Psmith. "Having inspired confidence. The day was warm. "This net. "by the docility of our demeanour. "This is the first eleven net. Mr. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. Roman camps. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. This is the real cricket scent. from increased embarrassment. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. Mike. for Mr. but patronising." "Over there" was the end net. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. and kept them by his aide." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. Mike walked away without a word. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. seemed to enjoy them * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions." said Adair coldly. to be absolutely accurate. was the first eleven net. let us slip away. Psmith approached Mike. He was amiable. Mike repeated his request. "Go in after Lodge over there. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. and was trying not to show it. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care.

He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. he got up. and trusted to speed to save him. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. "A fatiguing pursuit. Mike would have carried on. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. for the Free Foresters last summer. He was too late. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. I can tell you. lay down. "I played against you. jumped the brook. broad young man with a fair moustache. they always liked him." And Psmith. and then. and listen to the music of the brook. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. Ah. In fact." said Psmith. In the same situation a few years may lie on his back for a bit. Their departure had passed unnoticed. and. Comrade Jackson. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it." Mike. dancing in among my . above all. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. and sitting down. Call me in about an hour. "Thus far. We will rest here awhile. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles." "The dickens you--Why. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. "And. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. At the further end there was a brook. He was a short. unless you have anything important to say. and they strolled away down the hill. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. and closed his eyes. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. "I was just having a look round." he said. I rather think I'll go to sleep. and began to explore the wood on the other side. Mike sat on for a few minutes. Looking back. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. finding this a little dull. hitching up the knees of his trousers." said Psmith. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. In passing. offered no opposition. Mine are like some furrowed field. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. Mike liked dogs. "and no farther. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. and began to bark vigorously at him. but he could not place him. this looks a likely spot. He came back to where the man was standing. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. on acquaintance.

What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. "So. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. You're Prendergast. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn." "That's all right. but no great shakes." he concluded." said Mike. if you want me to." And he told how matters stood with him. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is." "I'll play on a rockery. He began to talk about himself. There's a sign-post where you turn off. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. turning to the subject next his heart." "You ought to have had me second ball. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped." "Thanks. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. you see. It's just off the London road. "Any Wednesday or Saturday." "I'll lend you everything. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. By the way. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. You made fifty-eight not out. "Only village. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. By Jove. I'm simply dying for a game." "I'm frightfully sorry. I'll tell you how it is. We all start out together." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. but I could nip back. I say. * * * * * ." "I'll give you all you want. you know. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat.nesting pheasants. only cover dropped it. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. Look here. "I hang out down here." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. Very keen.

Mr. If you like the game. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. on being awakened and told the news. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. sleepily. to enjoy himself. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. To Mr. for a village near here." * * * * * That Saturday. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. but it was a very decent substitute."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. M. indeed. Mr. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . though he would not have admitted it. I say. Downing. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. Cricket I dislike. and the most important. To Mike. It was. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. It was not Wrykyn. As time went on. pompous. Downing. "I'm going to play cricket. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. will you? I don't want it to get about. and Mr. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility." One of the most acute of these crises. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. fussy. never an easy form-master to get on with. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. Downing. and it grew with further acquaintance. Downing's special care. life can never be entirely grey. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. Jackson. don't tell a soul." "My lips are sealed. punctuated at intervals by crises. Mike began. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. I think I'll come and watch you. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. employed doing "over-time. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports.

had joined young and worked their way up. Under them were the rank and file. of the School House. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. Stone and Robinson.esteem of Mr." Red. Downing had closed the minute-book. The proceedings always began in the same way. Sammy. Downing. of Outwood's house. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. and under the captain a vice-captain. under him was a captain. To show a keenness for cricket was good. "Well. sir. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. short for Sampson. "Shall I put it to the vote. We will now proceed to the painful details. Outwood. The rest were entirely frivolous. who looked on the Brigade in the right. with a thin green stripe. Downing. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. an engaging expression. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. These two officials were those sportive allies. spirit. and was apparently made of india-rubber. He had long legs. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. In passing. Stone. light-hearted dog with a white coat. who. a tenor voice. sir. or Downing. was the Sedleigh colour." . He was a large. held up his hand. a sort of high priest. The Brigade was carefully organised. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. with green stripes. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. Downing. Wilson. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. Downing's form-room. the tongue of an ant-eater. To-day they were in very fair form. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. At its head was Mr. about thirty in all. As soon as Mr. and a particular friend of Mike's. sir?" asked Stone. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. Sammy was the other. "One moment. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. Wilson?" "Please. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. Downing pondered "Red. much in request during French lessons.

sir. The whole strength of the company: "Please. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. sir. listen to me. sir. sir. We cannot plunge into needless expense. Downing banged on his desk. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. sir. of course. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question." said Robinson. sir." said Stone. sir-r-r!" "But. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. Stone. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. "Sit down!" he said." . and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. Stone."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. sit down--Wilson. Mr. please. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. those against it to the right. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. sir. and the meeting had divided. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive." "Please. Well. the danger!" "Please." "Please. "Silence!" "Then. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. sir." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. out of the question. "I don't think my people would be pleased. Mr. Wilson?" "Please. of course." A scuffling of feet. sir. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. perfectly preposterous. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. get back to your place.

"May I fetch a book from my desk. Downing. Those near enough to see. sir?" asked Mike. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. "I think it's something outside the window." said Robinson. Downing. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. leave the room!" "Sir. sir. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. puzzled." as he reached the door. Mr." "What _sort_ of noise. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. I think. Wilson. I'm not making a whining noise. we are busy. mingled with cries half-suppressed. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. "It's outside the door.Mr. sir?" said a voice "off. "Our Wilson is facetious. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. "Noise. _please_. sir. We must have keenness. sir. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. no. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. "Very well--be quick. sir!" "This moment. sir? No. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. sir?" asked Mike." was cut off by the closing door." he said." said Stone helpfully. Downing." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr." A pained "OO-oo-oo. He was not alone. Jackson. "do me one hundred lines. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. Downing smiled a wry smile. "Sir. "A bird. I want you boys above all to be keen. as many Wrykynians . sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. sir?" inquired Mike. The muffled cries grew more distinct. Wilson!" "Yes. And. there must be less of this flippancy." he remarked frostily. sir-r-r.

" "Or somebody's boots." put in Stone. Henderson. Jackson and Wilson. Mr. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way.had asked before him. What are you doing. Downing's desk resembled thunder." "Yes. you will be severely punished. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. "Perhaps that's it." added Robinson. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. threats. all shouted. _Quietly_. Downing acidly. It is a curious whining noise. bustling scene. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. "Stone. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. The banging on Mr. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. "I do not propose. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. "They do sometimes. Downing shot out orders. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. It was a stirring. sir. I said. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. sir." "They are mowing the cricket field. sit down! Donovan. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. Chaos reigned. among the ruins barking triumphantly." Crash! . rising from his place. Mr. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. Some leaped on to forms. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. Downing." said the invisible Wilson. all of you. "to imitate the noise. and was now standing. go quietly from the room. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. Vincent. if you do not sit down. the same! Go to your seat. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. like Marius. sir. others flung books." said Mr. Come in. remain.

Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. We are a keen school. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. and he came in after the rat. but Mr." The meeting dispersed. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. Wilson?" "Please. That will do. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. "that I had left my Horace in my desk." It was plain to Mr." said Wilson. "Jackson and Wilson. "One hundred lines. "Well. I had to let him go. Downing turned to Mike. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. Wilson. everybody. come here. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . Downing walked out of the room. it was true. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. sir. Wilson had supplied the rat. Mr. but nevertheless a member. too."Wolferstan. Jackson. Go quietly from the room. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. Jackson. and had refused to play cricket." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. Mike the dog. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. but when you told me to come in." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. Also he kept wicket for the school. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. so he came in." And Mr. as one who tells of strange things. frivolous at times. sir." said Mike. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. Mr. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. sir. and paid very little for it. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. I fear. "You may go. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction." "I tried to collar him. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. Jackson." he said.

by return of post. it may be stated at once. sorry. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. Stone beamed. "You're a sportsman. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . he would be practically penniless for weeks. The fact is. after the Sammy incident. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. But it's about all I have got. Robinson was laughing. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. Robinson on the table. (Which. forgotten. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. done with. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings." said Robinson. the return match. He felt that he. so don't be shy about paying it back. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. asked for the loan of a sovereign. contemporary with Julius Caesar. I do happen to have a quid. They sat down.They say misfortunes never come singly. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. and got up. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. There was. without preamble. "As a matter of fact. Jellicoe came into the room. if you like. and. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. You can freeze on to it.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. as a matter of fact. I'm in a beastly hole. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. he did." said Mike." "Oh. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. "I say. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. they should have it. He was in warlike mood. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. Mike put down his pen. Mike's heart warmed to them. and welcomed the intrusion." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again.

You can do what you like. They were useful at cricket. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. As for Mike. "Well. "are a rag. Masters were rather afraid of them. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. As to the kind of adventure. They go about. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. you could get into some sort of a team. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. "I got Saturday afternoon. and you never get more than a hundred lines. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement." "Don't you!" said Mike. he now found them pleasant company. If you know one end of a bat from the other." said Stone. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St." . why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. and a vast store of animal spirits." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. small and large. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. a keen school. He got a hundred lines." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. My pater took me away. above all. They had a certain amount of muscle. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community.'" quoted Stone." said Mike. Winifred's" brand. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone.public school. They were absolutely free from brain. and began to get out the tea-things. loud and boisterous. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them." "'We are. and then they usually sober down. "Were you sacked?" "No.

" "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. and I should have been captain this year. I play for a village near here." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. do play. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. "By Jove. You _must_ play. "I've got an idea. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. "Why. look here. but they always have it in the fourth week. "Enough for six. and the others?" "Brother. for a start. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. Stone broke the silence. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J." "Masters don't play in house matches. We're playing Downing's. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. "Why." said Stone. There are always house matches. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. My word." "Think of the rag. W." "What!" "Well. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." agreed Robinson. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. "I did. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. if I'd stopped on. I was in the team three years. and knock the cover off him. It's nowhere near the middle of the term." . what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is." said Mike. I say. yes. Stone gaped. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove." said Stone. I say. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. You don't get ordered about by Adair." said Robinson. Only a friendly." "Adair sticks on side. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. Place called Little Borlock. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running.

I was in the team. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. THEN. He studied his _Wisden_. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. Jackson. JACKSON. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. . Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. "I say. "The list isn't up yet. "Are you the M." he said." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. Mike was not a genuine convert. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag." They dashed out of the room." said Mike. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. It was so in Mike's case. then. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door." said Mike. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. "I say. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. quite unexpectedly. Then footsteps returning down the passage. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. "Thanks awfully. and make him alter it."But the team's full. Barnes appeared. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. Most leap at the opportunity. Downing assumed it. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert." "Yes." he said. Mr. and a murmur of excited conversation. I mean. and when. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. but to Mr.

Mike. as captain of cricket. "What!" he cried. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six." said Psmith earnestly. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. Mike saw. sir. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. sir. competition is fierce. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. Adair. on the cricket field. Your enthusiasm has bounds." "In our house. * * * * * Barnes. It was a good wicket. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. 2 manner--the playful. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. timidly jubilant. had naturally selected the best for his own match. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. With Mike it was different. above all. "We are. the archaeologist of yesterday. Downing's No. I notice. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. Drones are not welcomed by us. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. becomes the cricketer of to-day. We are essentially versatile. Smith? You are not playing yourself. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. who was with Mike. Jackson. It is the right spirit. "I like to see it. contrives to get an innings in a game. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. sir. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type." he said. "a keen house. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. working really hard.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. Downing." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. with a kind of mild surprise." "Indeed. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. in the way he took . Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. where the nervous new boy. except for the creases.

when delivered. Downing's slows. Downing irritably. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. The first over was a maiden. The fieldsmen changed over. but the programme was subject to alterations. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. Mike slammed it back. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. He had got a sight of the ball now. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. Mike went out at it. Mike took guard. Jenkins. Mike started cautiously. slow. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. took three more short steps. six dangerous balls beautifully played. and he knew that he was good. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. two long steps. as the ball came . and mid-on. but it stopped as Mr. was billed to break from leg. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. The ball. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again.guard. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. and ended with a combination of step and jump. and off the wicket on the on-side. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. as several of the other games had not yet begun." said Mr. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. in his stand at the wickets. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. gave a jump. He took two short steps. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. A half-volley this time. The ball was well up. failed to stop it. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. they were disappointed. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. and. and dashed up against the rails. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. Mr. "Get to them. This time the hope was fulfilled. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion.

please. Mr. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. in addition. The expected happened. waited in position for number four. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. By the time the over was finished. "Get to them. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. . Mike had then made a hundred and three. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. Jenkins. it is usually as well to be batting. by three wides. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. and bowling well." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. uttered with painful distinctness the words. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. sat on the splice like a limpet. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. Downing bowled one more over. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. This happened now with Mr. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. Scared by this escape. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. and Mike. Downing would pitch his next ball short. Then he looked up. one is inclined to be abrupt. without the slightest success. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. and then retired moodily to cover-point. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. where. offering no more chances. And a shrill small voice. there was a strong probability that Mr." "Sir. Adair came up. and. if you can manage it. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. The third ball was a slow long-hop. in Adair's fifth over. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. and the total of his side. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen.back from the boundary. Downing.

"I'm not keeping you. As a matter of fact. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. "That's just the gay idea. Downing. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity." said Stone." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. politely. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. thanks. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh." There was a silence. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster."I didn't say anything of the kind. Not up to it. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. I said I wasn't going to play here. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. "No. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. There's a difference. "Declare!" said Robinson. "Great Scott. Mr. was met with a storm of opposition. and the school noticed it. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. "Sick! I should think they would. "Above it. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. "I never saw such a chump. won't they?" suggested Barnes. am I?" said Mike. having got Downing's up a tree. I suppose?" "Not a bit." There was another pause." Adair was silent for a moment. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . The result was that not only he himself. Barnes's remark that he supposed. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. Of all masters. Three years. too.

Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. in one of which a horse." said Barnes unhappily. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. or when one is out without one's gun. amidst applause. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. each weirder and more futile than the last. it was assumed by the field. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. Mr. and Mike. playing himself in again. Games had frequently been one-sided. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . He retired blushfully to the pavilion." said Stone with a wide grin. greatly daring. fortified by food and rest. and that is what happened now." said Robinson." "Well. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. I swear I won't field.30. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. and Stone came out. Nor will Robinson. was bowling really well. Besides.15. In no previous Sedleigh match. tried their luck." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. At four o'clock. "Only you know they're rather sick already. passing in the road. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. the small change. But still the first-wicket stand continued. mercifully. Barnes. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. Time. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. And the rest. after a full day's play. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. The first-change pair are poor. "If you declare. Bowlers came and went. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. Adair. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. Play was resumed at 2. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. proceeded to get to business once more. These are the things which mark epochs." "So do I." "Don't you worry about that. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. going in first early in the morning. I won't then. that directly he had topped his second century. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot.can. Downing took a couple more overs. if I can get it." "Rather not. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces.

You must declare your innings closed. Barnes. and Stone... sir. Downing." "Declare! Sir. sir.. a slip of paper. nearly weeping with pure joy. and still Barnes made no sign. "Barnes!" he called.. Downing walked moodily to his place. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. not out. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. 277 W. as who should say. First innings... sir._ J. "Capital." "It is perfect foolery.. And now let's start _our_ innings.. as a matter of fact. but his score.... The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad.... Hammond. _c_.. Stone." "This is absurd.. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force.. and the next over. we can't unless Barnes does.. was mounting steadily. just above the mantelpiece. P. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board.. The game has become a farce. _b_. not out." "He's very touchy.. 33 M... was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type.. too.... He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room.. But the next ball was bowled.. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was. as was only natural. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. Jackson. There was no reply. DOWNING'S _Outwood's. J. "I think Barnes must have left the field." snapped Mr..way.. Mike's pace had become slower. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's... He had an unorthodox style. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain.. Hassall." "Absurd." Mr. capital.. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.. but an excellent eye. Lobs were being tried.. 124 .. "This is foolery.... there was on view. a week later.." said Stone..) A grey dismay settled on the field." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion.. "Barnes!" "Please. and the next after that.....

could have been the Petted Hero.. fagged as he was. Downing.. here and there.. Twenty-eight off one over. is. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler.... leaning against the mantelpiece. You will probably get sacked. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. and Mike..." "I don't care.. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week..." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again." he said.. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot.." "He doesn't deserve to. Psmith.Extras. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. I suppose.. in a small way... But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. 471 Downing's did not bat.." . "In theory. "In an ordinary way. When all ringing with song and merriment... I should say that.. not to mention three wides... In fact. "the the place was crept to my side. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket.... for three quid. Comrade Jellicoe and. touched me This interested Mike.... CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night. if he had cared to take the part. shifting his aching limbs in the chair. it's worth it.. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr.. Mike. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you... But your performance was cruelty to animals. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. On the other hand. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day... slipping his little hand in mine. would have made Job foam at the mouth." said he. 37 ----Total (for one wicket)." murmured Mike..

" There was a creaking. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. but he could not sleep." "Nor can I. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. I hope. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. he'll pay me back a bit. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. "Are you asleep. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. I'm pretty well cleaned out."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. nothing. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. Well. . It was done on the correspondence system. who appeared to be to the conversation. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. Jackson!" he said. I'm stiff all over. when he's collected enough for his needs. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. and then dropped gently off. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe." * * * * * a log. the various points of his innings that day." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. as the best substitute for sleep. clinking sovereigns. wrapped in gloom. Psmith chatted for general." "I got some from my brother at Oxford." Silence again. "I say. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. He wanted four. I can't get to sleep. He felt very hot and uncomfortable.

and all that." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. But if you were. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . My mater would be sick." Mike dozed off again."Jackson." "Hullo?" "I say. "Hullo?" he said. My sister would be jolly sick. or to Australia. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. I expect. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. They might all be out. and you'd go in. "Nobody. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. I don't know. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness." "Yes. Especially my pater. I meant. Have you got any sisters. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. So would mine." "Happen when?" "When you got home. Why?" "Oh. you know." "Everybody's would." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. "My pater would be frightfully sick. He was not really listening. and you'd drive up to the house. in order to give verisimilitude. Jackson? I say. After being sacked. and the servant would open the door. Then he spoke again. and presently you'd hear them come in. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. and you'd go out into the passage. And then you'd be sent into a bank." The bed creaked. and then you'd have to hang about. as it were. I suppose. too. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. and wait. or something.

" "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. He resembled ninety per cent. This thing was too much. "I say. You'll wake Smith." Mike pondered." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon. I asked if you'd got any. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. look out."Me--Jellicoe. do you?" "What!" cried Mike." "Any what?" "Sisters." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. He changed the subject." said Jellicoe eagerly." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. "Do _what_?" "I say. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. already looking about him for further loans. of other members of English public schools. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. He was as obstinate as a mule. He had some virtues and a good many defects. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. Except on the cricket field. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. But it's jolly serious. he was just ordinary. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. where he was a natural genius. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. Was it a hobby. though people whom he liked .

Downing to come. Yesterday's performance. Where it was a case of saving a friend. He was rigidly truthful. He was good-natured as a general thing. And when he set himself to do this. Mr. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. . he had never felt stiffer in his life. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. As Psmith had said. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. there was the interview with Mr. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. it had to be done. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. Young blood had been shed overnight. which had arrived that evening. To begin with. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. It was a particularly fine day. He was always ready to help people. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. Downing and his house realised this. till Psmith. in his childhood. The thought depressed him. which made the matter worse. but. one good quality without any defect to balance it. He had. and had. who had a sensitive ear. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. stood in a class by itself. however. It was a wrench. Bob's postal order. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. The great match had not been an ordinary match. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. In addition to this. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. where the issue concerned only himself. he was in detention. And Mr. Mr. in addition. That would probably be unpleasant. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. Downing was a curious man in many ways. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors.could do as they pleased with him. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. Finally. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him.

he began in a sarcastic strain. the skipper. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. Downing. "No. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. the user of it must be met half-way. That is to say. no. Just as. sir. Downing came down from the heights with a run. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up." "Well. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. Mr. So Mr. in their experience of the orator. Mike. Downing laughed bitterly. which was as a suit of mail against satire. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. I have spoken of this before. sir. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. in the excitement of this side-issue. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. "You are surrounded. By the time he had reached his peroration. when he has trouble with the crew. more elusive. of necessity." concluded Mr. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. at sea." "Please. And. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. As events turned out. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. No. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. he was perfectly right. the speaker lost his inspiration. that would not be dramatic enough for you. did with much success. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. Macpherson. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. that prince of raggers. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's.Mr. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . Which Mike. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. sir. since the glorious day when Dunster. Far too commonplace!" Mr. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. works it off on the boy. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. For sarcasm to be effective. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. It would be too commonplace altogether. When a master has got his knife into a boy. you must conceal your capabilities. You must act a lie.

He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together." "I'll give you a hand. To their left." "It's swelling up rather. The average person. uttering sharp howls whenever. you know. Jellicoe hopping. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. he prodded himself too energetically. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling." "Awfully sorry. puts his hands over his skull. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. on hearing the shout. Jellicoe was cheerful. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. man. a long youth. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. as they crossed the field. Dunster. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. "Awfully sorry." said Mike. But I did yell. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. The bright-blazered youth walked the pitch. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him." said Dunster. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. Mike had strolled out by himself. "Silly ass. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. and rather embarrassingly grateful. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. "slamming about like that. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. "or I'd have helped you over. . When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. crouches down and trusts to luck. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground." he groaned." said Mike. "I shall have to be going in. zeal outrunning discretion. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. is not a little confusing. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air.

I'd no idea I should find him here." said Psmith." said Dunster. "You needn't be a funny ass. Hullo! another man out. Is anything irritating you?" he added." "Alas. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. Well hit." stirring sight when we met. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. "more. Dunster gave dawg. The fifth ball bowled a man. faithful below he did his duty. pained. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. and when you have finished those." "Old Smith and I. felt very much behind the times. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. I notice. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. as he walked to the cricket field. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. Have a cherry?--take one or two. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. the darling of the crew. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. fondling the beginnings of his moustache." said Psmith." . Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. Before he got there he heard his name called. "were at a private school together. Restore your tissues. and turning. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world." "I heard about yesterday. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. Mike. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village." said the animal delineator." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. "More. "Return of the exile." sighed Psmith. man. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. Mike made his way towards the pavilion." said Dunster. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. apply again. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest." said Dunster. Comrade Jackson. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever.

man. "it's too late. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. not so much physical as mental. Personally." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. Hamlet had got it." said Jellicoe gloomily.C. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. "Oh! chuck it." "I shall count the minutes. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. I like to feel that I am doing good. he felt disinclined for exertion. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. Soliloquy is a knack." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. "I mean.C. I shall get sacked." "Has he?" said Psmith. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted." said Psmith to Mike. I suppose. do you?" he said. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now." "Don't dream of moving. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. at last. it'll keep till tea-time. the sun was in my eyes." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" . I need some one to listen when I talk. "I hadn't heard. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. Mike stretched himself. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. but probably only after years of patient practice." said Psmith. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. "I say. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat." said Psmith.

"I'm awfully sorry. "I know what I'll do--it's all right." said Jellicoe miserably. who looked . I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. "it can't be helped. for some mysterious reason. has its comic man." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." "I say. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. called Lower Borlock. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. so I couldn't move. with a red and cheerful face." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day." "I say." "Yes." said Mike. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. "I say. he was the wag of the village team. stout man. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell."It's about that money. Every village team. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. do you think you could." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. it's as easy as anything. hang it!" he said. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught." Jellicoe sat up. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr. "Oh. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. it can." "What absolute rot!" "But. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." "He's the chap I owe the money to. He was a large. look here." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. it's frightfully decent of you." "It doesn't matter. Barley filled the post. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. only I got crocked.

He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. and if Jellicoe owed it. five pounds is a large sum of money. "if I can get into the shed. "You can manage that. another. I think. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. chuck it!" said Mike. I----" "Oh. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. "I shall bike there.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. and be full of the milk he was quite different. "it's locked up at night. there was nothing strange in Mr. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. I won't tell him. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean ." "I'll get it from him. but I had a key made to fit it last summer." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience." said Jellicoe. Besides. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business." "All right. He took the envelope containing the money without question. which was unfortunate. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened." "I say. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. but it did not occur to him to ask." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it." he said. Probably in business hours After all.

The advantage an inn has over a private house. for many reasons. there you are. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. I've given you the main idea of the thing. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. "I forget which. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. "Why. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. also. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. Mike would have been glad of a companion. communicating with the boots' room. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. . which for the time being has slipped my memory. Probably he would have volunteered to come. "One of the Georges. by the cricket field. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. of course. too. However. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. So Mike pedalled along rapidly." said Psmith. with whom early rising was not a hobby. The place was shut. Psmith had yielded up the key. Mike did not want to be expelled. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up.expulsion. 'ullo! Mr. "Yes. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. which. until he came to the inn. being wishful to get the job done without delay. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. Jackson. Still. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. sir?" said the boots. Mr. Jackson was easy-going with his family. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject.

Mr. who was waiting patiently by. dear!" chuckled Mr. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. and requested him to read it. "You can pop off. . and now he felt particularly fogged. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing." "I must see him. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. perhaps." Mr. Barley. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. hoping for light." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. Mr. Barley. Jack. I've got some money to give to him. Then he collapsed into a chair." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. "Oh dear!" he said. "What's up?" he asked." "The five--" Mr. the five pounds. It was an occasion for rejoicing. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. but rather for a solemn. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. Jack. of course. Jackson. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. "Dear. and had another attack. which creaked under him. Barley opened the letter." "Oh. thankful. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. "Well."I want to see Mr. read it. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. Jackson. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. if it's _that_--" said the boots. and wiped his eyes.

" "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. always up to it. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. Mr. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. I hope it is in time. G. Jellicoe over this. they are. since. which I could not get before. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. The other day. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. about 'ar parse five. took back the envelope with the five pounds. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. Mr. So I says to myself. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. Jellicoe. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. simply in order to satisfy Mr. 'I'll have a game with Mr. Mischief! I believe you. Barley slapped his leg. is another matter altogether. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. it was signed "T. Aberdeen terriers. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. Barley slapped his thigh. "he took it all in.--"I send the £5. and as sharp as mustard. last Wednesday it were. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. "Why. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. Love us!" Mr. and the damage'll be five pounds. but to be placed in a dangerous position. BARLEY. and rode off on his return journey. but. Mike. finishing this curious document. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. Barley's sense of humour." There was some more to the same effect. Mike was . Jane--she's the worst of the two. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. "DEAR MR. It would have been cruel to damp the man. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. in fact. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. the affair of old Tom Raxley." it ran. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary.

he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. The suddenness. and. however. It was pitch-dark in the shed. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. after which he ran across to Outwood's. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. his pursuer again gave tongue. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. and locked the door. carried on up the find this out for himself. With this knowledge. This he accomplished with success. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. Downing's house. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. It was from the right-hand gate. and running. and gone to bed. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. Sergeant Collard . his foot touched something on the floor. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. and through the study window. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. and as he wheeled his machine in. that the voice had come. There were two gates to Mr. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. On the first day of term. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. Without waiting to discover what this might be. as Mike came to the ground. Mike felt easier in his mind. Outwood's front garden. of which the house was the centre. nearest to Mr. As he did so. went out. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties.

There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. His programme now was simple. if that was out of the question. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone.was a man of many fine qualities. he sat on the steps." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). He left his cover. this time at a walk. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. but Time. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. A sound of panting was borne to him. disappeared as the runner. turned into the road that led to the school. Then he would trot softly back. that he had been seen and followed. he was evidently possessed of a key. Meanwhile. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. Focussing his gaze. at Wrykyn. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. turned aside. They passed the gate and went on down the road. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. His first impression. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. He would have liked to be in bed. with the sergeant panting in his wake. increasing his girth. as Mike. Then the sound of footsteps returning. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. but. taking things easily. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. Like Mike. passing through the gate. His thoughts were miles away. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. he supposed--on the school clock. The other appeared startled. He would wait till a quarter past. Having arrived there. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. shoot up the water-pipe once more. this was certainly the next best thing. . The pursuer had given the thing up. but he could not run. and so to bed. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. looking out on to the cricket field. "Is that you. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. instead of making for the pavilion. He ran on.

He was off like an . One of the chaps in our house is bad. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. was now standing at his front gate. It came about. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. was a very fair stomach-ache. Adair rode off. two ices. half a cocoa-nut. Jackson?" "What are you. Downing emerged from his gate. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. therefore. as a matter of fact. Now it happened that Mr." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. But Mr. an apple. that MacPhee. was disturbed in his mind. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. aroused from his first sleep by the news. The school clock struck the quarter." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. waiting for Adair's return. He would be safe now in trying for home again. and. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. Downing. All that was wrong with MacPhee. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. at a range of about two yards." Mike turned away. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. He walked in that direction. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. and Mr. whistling between his teeth. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. So long. and a pound of cherries. "I'm going for the doctor. that Mike. Adair?" The next moment Mr. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. After a moment's pause."What are you doing out here. conveyed to him by Adair. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. and washing the lot down with tea. with a cry of "Is that you. three doughnuts.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. escaped and rushed into the road. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. "One of the boys at the school." said Mr." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time." Mr. Mr. He did not want to smile. you say?" "Very big. He had a cold in the head." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. instead of running about the road. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. It was not his . did want to smile. only. deeply interested. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. on the other hand. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world." "No. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. Downing. Mr. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. no. The Head. Downing. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. you think?" "I am certain of it. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. The headmaster. taking advantage of the door being open. "He--he--_what_. whoever he was. in spite of his strict orders. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. who. I suppose not. "Dear me!" he said. A big boy. he wanted revenge. He received the housemaster frostily. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. was not in the best of tempers. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. he went straight to the headmaster.

and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. who. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances." "Impossible. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. "Not actually in. gave him a most magnificent start. Downing as they walked back to lunch. Downing was not listening. broke into a wild screech of laughter. he would have to discover him for himself. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. It was only . if he wanted the criminal discovered. Downing. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. and" Which he did. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. of Outwood's. with the exception of Johnson III. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. Oh yes. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. I think. and Mr. as far as I understand. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. Mr. Outwood who helped him. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. at the time. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. Downing. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. Outwood.. Downing. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. and passed it on to Mr. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. unidentified. Downing. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. but without result. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. not to mention cromlechs. It was Mr." Mr. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. Downing was left with the conviction that. the rest was comparatively easy. had seen. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England.

I am. he rushed forth on the trail. Regardless of the claims of digestion." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. but it finishes in time. Oo-oo-oo. sir. "I did. Downing. in order to ensure privacy. I did. yer." he said. Dinner was just over when Mr. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. sir--spotted 'im." "Ah!" . you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. and I doubles after 'im prompt.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there." he said. Feeflee good at spottin'." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. Downing arrived. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. sir. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. yer young monkey. sergeant?" "No. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. sergeant. In due course Mr. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. "tells me that last night. ejecting the family. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. which the latter was about to do unasked.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. found himself at liberty. "Oo-oo-oo. sir.' he used to say. Having requested his host to smoke. sir. Downing stated his case. Outwood. as a blind man could have told. Dook of Connaught. "Did you catch sight of his face. sir. "Mr. sir. Mr. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. he used to say.

to a very large extent." "Pray do not move. having requested Mrs." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. sir. sir. sir. Good afternoon. and slept the sleep of the just. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. success in the province of detective work must always be. "I will find my way out. on Wednesday." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." And Mr. the result of luck.C. rubbing the point in." "I hope not. I'm feeflee good at spottin'." he said. and dusted. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. The school plays the M. sir. sergeant. Very hot to-day. but it was a dark night.C. sergeant. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once."Bare-'eaded. put a handkerchief over his face. rested his feet on the table. 'cos yer see. . "Good-afternoon. and exhibited clearly. Downing rose to go. "Well. if he persisted in making so much noise." "So do I." added the sergeant." Mr. sergeant. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. with a label attached. Outwood's house. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. while Sergeant Collard." "Good-afternoon to you. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. sir. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him.

now that he had started to handle his own first case. just as the downtrodden medico did. If you go to a boy and say. but even if there had been only one other. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. saying: "My dear Holmes. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock." the boy does not reply. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. But if ever the emergency does arise. Outwood's house. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. We should simply have hung around. it would have complicated matters. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. What he wanted was a clue. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. shouting to him to pick them up. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. tight-lipped smiles. his sympathy for Dr. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. Probably. as a matter of fact. It is practically Stalemate. and leaves the next move to you. As he brooded over the case in hand. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. he thought. Mr. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. having capped Mr. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. there were clues lying all over the place. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. It certainly was uncommonly hard. and his methods.The average man is a Doctor Watson. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. but. requested that way peculiar to some boys. "Sir. to detect anybody. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. this time in the shape of Riglett. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. of course. unless you knew who had really done the crime. we should have been just as dull ourselves. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. when Fate once more intervened. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. if he only knew. Mr." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. only a limited number of boys in Mr. Watson increased with every minute. even and. a junior member of his house. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. how--?" and all the rest of it. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. All these things passed through Mr. There were. but.

who had been waiting patiently two yards away. "Pah!" said Mr. however. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. stood first on his left foot. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. It was the ground-man's paint. to be considered. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. Downing saw it. Riglett. Downing. Watson could not have overlooked. but just a mess. Mr. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . "Get your bicycle. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. Downing remembered. Paint. In the first place. Then suddenly. Red paint. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field." he said. Watson a fair start. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term.bicycle from the shed. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. Mr. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. The sound recalled Mr. "and be careful where you tread. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. Downing. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. then on his right. He felt for his bunch of keys. Give Dr. and finally remarked." Riglett. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. What he saw at first was not a Clue. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Downing to mundane matters. leaving Mr. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. A foot-mark! No less. he saw the clue. Then Mr. Mr. Downing. Your careful detective must consider everything. Downing unlocked the door. Much thinking had made him irritable. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. Yoicks! There were two things. extracted his bicycle from the rack. and made his way to the shed. and he is a demon at the game. A foot-mark. blushed. beneath the disguise of the mess. The air was full of the pungent scent. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. And this was a particularly messy mess. now coughed plaintively. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. walking delicately through dry places.

) In that case the foot-mark might be his. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. He rapped at the door of the first. "Oh. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. Thank you. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. sir. Quite so. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. I suppose. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. Adair." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. His book had been interesting. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee." "Thank you." he said." "I see. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. sir. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. There's a barn just before you get to them. "No. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. sir. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. I didn't go into the shed at all. I shall be able to find them. This was the more probable of the two contingencies." "It is spilt all over the floor. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. don't get up. He could get the ground-man's address from him. that there was paint on his boots. His is the first you come to. by the way. You did not do that. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. Oh. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. and the ground-man came out in . Things were moving. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. on the right as you turn out into the road. Adair. There are three in a row. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. but I could show you in a second. on returning to the house. Adair. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him.

Makes it look shabby.his shirt-sleeves. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Regardless of the heat. sir? No." "On the floor?" "On the floor. Picture. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. The thing had become simple to a degree. "Oh. no. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. sir. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. An excellent idea. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. sir. That is all I wished to know. On the shelf at the far end. It wanted a lick of paint bad." "Just so. Markby. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business." "Of course. Tell me. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. thank you. Thank you. All he had to do was to go to Mr. as was indeed the case." Mr. He was hot on the scent now. sir. ascertain its owner. Markby. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . thank you. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. It was Sunday. and spilt. yes. too. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. Markby. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. with the result that it has been kicked over. sir. and denounce him to the headmaster." "Do you want it. You had better get some more to-morrow. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. Outwood's house somewhere. The fact is. Quite so. sir?" "No. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. Just as I thought. blinking as if he had just woke up. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr.

Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. "There's a kid in France. sir?" "Do as I tell you. That is to say." "'Tis well. "A warm afternoon. who had just entered the house. Downing arrived." said Psmith. as he passed. "Or shall I fetch Mr. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure." said he. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. "Enough of this spoolery. no matter. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. "I was an ass ever to try it. I wonder! Still. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings." "With acute pleasure. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. "What the dickens." said Mike. and said nothing. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. What brings him round in this direction." murmured Psmith courteously. Downing." snapped Mr." said Mike disparagingly. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. Smith. . I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. He is welcome to them. Outwood." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. sir. and Psmith. found Mr.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. I will be with you in about two ticks. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance." Mike walked on towards the field. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. sir.

Smith. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. sir. Downing nodded. An airy room. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. Mr. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. "we have Barnes' dormitory. It is Mr. Downing stopped short." said Psmith. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. Smith." said Psmith. sir. opening a door. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. Here we have----" Mr. but went down to the matron's room. "This. sir? No. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. Smith. "Is this impertinence studied. Mr. The observation escaped me unawares. "Excuse me. Mr. An idea struck the master. "Aha!" said Psmith. The matron being out." said Mr. "to keep your remarks to yourself. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles." They moved on up the passage. "The studies. Downing looked at him closely. Psmith waited patiently by." he cried." he said. . Smith?" "Ferguson's study. sir?" he asked. Downing paused. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. Downing rose. sir. "I beg your pardon. "Shall I lead the way. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. That's further down the passage.Psmith said no more. baffled. panting slightly. "I think he's out in the field." Mr. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. sir. having examined the last bed. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. then moved on. crimson in the face with the exercise. "Are you looking for Barnes." "I was only wondering. Downing with asperity. sir. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. I understand. The master snorted suspiciously." said Psmith. "Show me the next dormitory. This is Barnes'. Each boy. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. Drawing blank at the last dormitory." Mr. "Here.

The cricketer." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. Smith. Smith?" "Jackson. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study." "Ah! Thank you." "Not at all. sir. they go out extremely quickly. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. sir. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. "A lovely view. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. that Mr. rapping a door. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. Downing pondered. even in the dusk." "I think." Mr. is it not. sir?" said Psmith. Smith. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes." said Mr."Whose is this?" he asked. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. the field. sir. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . sir." "Never mind about his cricket." said Psmith. And. putting up his eyeglass. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. Downing with irritation. "This. "Have you no bars to your windows here. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr." Mr. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. sir. "No. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. "The trees. the distant hills----" Mr. sir. sir. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. No. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. sir. is mine and Jackson's. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. Downing suddenly started.

trembling with excitement. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. "go and bring that basket to me here." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. sir--no. sir. and bent once more to his task. I noticed them as he went out just now. Psmith leaned against the wall. sir. sir? He has them on. Downing stooped eagerly over it. sir." Mr." "Smith. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. "I should say at a venture. Such a moment came to Mr. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. Downing knelt on the floor beside . he rushed straight on. It was a fine performance. prompting these manoeuvres. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. our genial knife-and-boot boy. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. "On the spot. If he had been wise. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell." said Psmith affably. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. at early dawn." Mr. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. he would have achieved his object." said Mr. I believe. Mr. and straightened out the damaged garment. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. Psmith had noticed. he was his life. Smith?" "Not one. "We have here. Edmund. "Smith!" he said excitedly. that they would be in the basket downstairs. by a devious and snaky route." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. sir. "His boots. Boots flew about the room." he said. Downing then. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. and dumped is down on the study floor." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. As it was. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. "a fair selection of our various bootings. Downing looked up. But that there was something. Mr. collects them. he did not know. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. Downing.

of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. one puts two and two together. Leave the basket here. sir?" Mr. with an exclamation of triumph. "That's the lot. and doing so. began to pick up the scattered footgear. "Yes." Mr. of course. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon." "Come with me." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. After a moment Psmith followed him. I shall take this with me. sir. might be a trifle undignified. when Mr. In his hand he held a boot. He knew nothing. "No. . on the following day. Psmith took the boot. understood what before had puzzled him. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. It was "Brown. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. At last he made a dive. The ex-Etonian." "Shall I put back that boot. Smith. You can carry it back when you return. The headmaster was in his garden. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. Bridgnorth. sir?" "Certainly not. Downing made his way. and. Smith. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest." as he did so." he said." he said. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. "I think it would be best. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. Downing left the room. Downing had finished. Psmith looked at it again. rising." he said. rose to his feet. carrying a dirty boot. of course. then.the basket. Thither Mr. Downing. "Indeed?" he said. "Ah. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. sir." "Shall I carry it. Downing reflected. "Put those back again. and when. boot-maker.

it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. I brought it on purpose to show to you. I saw it with my own eyes. Of any suspicion of paint." The headmaster interposed." "This is foolery. red or otherwise. Just Mr." said Psmith chattily. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. Downing. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. is the--? Just so. It was a broad splash right across the toe. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. putting up his eyeglass.." said the headmaster.. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. this boot with exactly where Mr. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. Smith will bear me out in this. Mr. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. Mr. not uncommon. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. I fancy. Downing was the first to break the silence. "who was remarkably subject----" . These momentary optical delusions are. "now let me so. Just. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. putting on a pair of look at--This. Psmith." he said vehemently. er. "You must have made a mistake. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering.. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. sir. Smith. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. "There was paint on this boot. There was no paint on this boot. Downing. Mr. sir. the cynosure of all eyes. fixed stare. you say. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. But.

" "Exactly. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. The goaded housemaster turned on him. I remember thinking myself. Shall I take the boot with me. Smith. sir?" . Downing shortly." said Psmith." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded." "I am reading it. "that is surely improbable. Downing. I cannot have been mistaken. "My theory. Downing looked searchingly at him." "It is undoubtedly black now. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. sir. Smith." "A sort of chameleon boot. at the moment." "You are very right. Smith. sir?" said Psmith. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute." "Yes. consequently. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. "May I go now. sir. Mr. had not time to fade." said Mr." said Psmith." said the headmaster. with simple dignity. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. sir. really. he did not look long at the boot. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. is that Mr." said Psmith with benevolent approval." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. Smith?" "Did I speak. I can assure you that it does not brush off. Downing. if I may----?" "Certainly. If Mr. "Well. Downing recollects. "What did you say. Mr." said the headmaster. Mr. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. "for pleasure. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. sir. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. "You had better be careful. The afternoon sun. The picture on the retina of the eye. sir." murmured Psmith. "My theory. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. Downing."It is absurd." "Really. streaming in through the window.

" Psmith sat down again. The scrutiny irritated Mr. and lock the cupboard. and turning in at Outwood's gate. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. in fact the probability. Smith. Put it away. where are we? In the soup. left the garden. laid down his novel." he said. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. Mr. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. every time. were friends. sir?" "Yes. he reflected. "That thing. Downing was brisk and peremptory. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. hurried over to Outwood's. however. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. Psmith. Smith. with a sigh. The possibility. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr." . He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. was a most unusual sight. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf." he said to himself approvingly. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. On arriving at the study. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk." he said. and rose to assist him. Psmith and Mike."If Mr. that ridiculous glass. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. too. On this occasion. "I can manage without your help." said the housemaster. the spectacle of Psmith running. having included both masters in a kindly smile. he. Outwood's at that moment saw what. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. and the latter. if they had but known it. Without brain. he raced down the road. "Sit down. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. "Brain. "Put that thing away. Downing. and Mr. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. Downing appeared. "I wish to look at these boots again.

" "I think you will find that it is locked. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. "Smith!" he said. lodged another complaint." "I was interested in what you were doing. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. but each time without success. "Yes." "Never mind." "Thank you. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. Nothing of value or interest. sir?" asked Psmith." "May I read. sir. "Don't sit there staring at me." Mr. "Just a few odd trifles. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. Downing rapped the door irritably. His eye roamed about the room." "I guessed that that was the reason. after fidgeting for a few moments. and his chin on his hands." Psmith took up his book again. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. Possibly an old note-book. perhaps. Smith. He went through it twice. sir. he stood up. Downing. now thoroughly irritated."Why. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. and Mr. of harbouring the quarry. sir. A ball of string. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. We do not often use it. sir. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. patiently." "Open it. read if you like. There was very little cover there. on sight." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. The floor could be acquitted." . Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. who. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. After the second search. sir. and looked wildly round the room. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. This cupboard. He rested his elbows on his knees. "Yes. sir?" "Yes.

sir. Outwood."Unlock it." Mr. And he knew that. Smith would be alone in the room. "I don't believe a word of it. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. And I know it's not Mr. and ask him to be good . Mr. "Yes. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. sir. "Smith. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. you must get his permission." Mr. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. Then he was seized with a happy idea. Outwood. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. Downing thought for a moment. Downing paused." "But where is the key. "Are you aware whom you are talking to." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. I am only the acting manager. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. Outwood." Mr. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. If you wish to break it open. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. Smith?" he inquired acidly. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. He also reflected. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me." he said shortly." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. staring into vacancy. sir. Downing stared. amazed. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile." Psmith got up. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. if Smith were left alone in the room. "go and find Mr. I shall break open the door. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard." he said. perhaps----! On the other hand. sir. Jackson might have taken it. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith.

"Do you intend to disobey me. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith." he said. If you pressed a button. "Yes. Outwood's house. Downing's voice was steely. to take a parallel case. 'Psmith. as if he had been asked a conundrum. "Thwarted to me face." "one cannot. however. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. Outwood at once. I would fly to do your bidding. "I take my stand. So in my case. and explain to him how matters stand. But in Mr. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. sir. Outwood." he continued. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . your word would be law. as who should say." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. sir. Mr. Outwood." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. and come back and say to me. "If you will let me explain. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. One cannot. who resumed the conversation. Mr. If you will go to Mr." he said. I would do the rest. "_Quick_. "on a technical point. I ought to have remembered that before. Smith. "Let us be reasonable." Psmith still made no move. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. "Go and find Mr. 'Mr. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. ha. Smith. I say to myself. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. sir." "What!" "Yes. Smith?" Mr. His manner was almost too respectful. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr.enough to come here for a moment.

as the footsteps died away. at any rate. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. Downing stalked out of the room. Placing this in the cupboard." added Psmith pensively to himself. Then he turned to the boot. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. he went to the window." why he should not do so if he wishes it." "I can assure you. when it had stopped swinging. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. sir. Outwood. Smith. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill." Mr. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. Downing wishes me to do. "I have been washing my hands. "Very well." "H'm!" said Mr. the latter looking dazed. and thrust it up the chimney. and let the boot swing free. Outwood with spirit. "Smith. Downing was in the study. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. and took out the boot. A shower of soot fell into the grate. there will be a boot there when you return." "My dear Outwood. He tied the other end of the string to this. "Where have you been. He noticed with approval. and with him Mr. sir. blackening his hand. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. Mr. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now." added Mr. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. Downing suspiciously. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. Outwood. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. Outwood. "But." He took the key from his unlocked the cupboard." snapped the sleuth. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. he re-locked the door. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. I shall not tell you again. He went there. "Yes. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. Smith. and washed off the soot. and. Smith?" asked Mr. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string." ." said Mr. You see my difficulty. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. Downing sharply. When he returned.

Smith?" "I must have done. "I told you. Last night a boy broke out of your house. Outwood." Mr. "We must humour him. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. and tore the boot from its resting-place. Let me see. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath." "It certainly appears. "Did you place that boot there." "I wondered where that boot had got to. Now. Mr. "You have touched the spot. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. with any skeletons it might contain. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. Downing was examining his find. The wood splintered." said Mr. Outwood with asperity. round-eyed. sir." said Psmith. Have you any objection?" Mr. The cupboard. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. At any rate. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Downing?" interrupted Mr. if you look at it sideways. Downing shortly." "If I must explain again. Psmith'a expression said. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. "This is not the boot. Then. was open for all to view. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . He never used them. "I told you. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. sir. "Why?" "I don't know why. approvingly. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. "I've been looking for it for days." said Psmith sympathetically. Outwood." "So with your permission. Mr. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door." he added helpfully. "This boot has no paint on it. none at all." "He painted--!" said Mr. glaring at Psmith. "to be free from paint. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. belonging to Mike."Exactly. he did. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Outwood started. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays." he said. my dear Outwood." he said. and painted my dog Sampson red. Downing seized one of these. do you understand?" Mr. "Objection? None at all. my dear fellow." said Psmith.

An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. "Animal spirits." "You would have done better. Unfortunately. Downing. Downing's eye." he said. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. He looked up. You were not quite clever enough. from earth to heaven. sir. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there." "It's been great fun. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. sir. "WHAT!" . Downing a good. sir." he said. Outwood had the grate. "I thought as much. "Fun!" Mr. he used the sooty hand. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. Smith?" he asked slowly. not to have given me all this trouble. and one could imagine him giving Mr. Smith. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth." said Psmith. Apply them. once more. You have done yourself no good by it." "No.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. Outwood off his feet. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. SMITH?"] "Yes." Mr." said Psmith patiently. "We all make mistakes. Smith. nearly knocking Mr." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. and a thrill went through him. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. but he ignored it.") Mr. sir. baffled. hard knock. Mr. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. It should have been done before. "Ah. my dear Watson." argued Psmith. Downing laughed grimly. after all. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. He bent down to "Dear me. though. A little more.

far from the madding crowd. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. Mr. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. sir." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. In the language of the Ring. for a man of refinement. accordingly. It was the knock-out." said Psmith. he took the count. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. just as he was opening his mouth. and hauled in the string. but on the whole it had been worth it. positively." he said. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. worked in some mysterious cell. soap. until he should have thought out a scheme. His fears were realised. as he had said. "I say you will hear more of it. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. at the back of the house. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. intervened. It would take a lot of cleaning. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. Psmith went to the window. Outwood. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again." What Mr. It is positively covered with soot. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He went down beneath it. he went up to the study again. It had been trying. Downing had found the other. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. Smith. "You will hear more of this. You must come and wash it. You are quite black. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. sir. "your face. "My dear Downing." he said. * * * * * When they had gone. for the time being. Really. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. most. quite covered. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. at about the same height where Mr. Edmund. though one can guess roughly. and sponges. he saw." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. my dear fellow. It seemed to him that."Animal spirits. and it was improbable that Mr. Having restored the basket to its proper place. you present a most curious appearance. of course. the boot-boy. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. Let me show you the way to my room. ." Then he allowed Mr. and it had cut into his afternoon. Mr. For. The boot-cupboard was empty.

what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. I mean--Oh. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. So in the case of boots. there's the bell. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . "'Ere's one of 'em. Jackson. But. but. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. Jackson." Edmund turned this over in his mind." replied Edmund to both questions. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn." as much as to say. had no views on the subject. There was nothing. "Well. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. if he does. which one observes naturally and without thinking. Boys say. Edmund. "Great Scott. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. So Psmith kept his own counsel. Psmith was no exception to the rule. At a school. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. the thing creates a perfect sensation." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. should he prefer them. "I may have lost a boot. Edmund. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. There is no real reason why. It was not altogether forgetfulness." "Well. "No. he thought. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. for instance. "One? What's the good of that. "Jones. I can still understand sound reasoning. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. dash it. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. he should not wear shoes. to be gained from telling Mike. if the day is fine. thank goodness. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. Mr. sir. and then said. Mr." he said.

settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr.. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. On one occasion. he told him to start translating. but they feel it in their bones. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. It was only Mr. turning to Stone. and finally "That will do. They cannot see it. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. Downing. as he usually did. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. called his name. and the subsequent proceedings. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. looking on them.. had regarded Mike with respect. and the form. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. Stone. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. abuse. Mike. Jackson?" "Pumps. Satire. with a few exceptions. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. yes. Downing who gave trouble. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. Mr. he floundered hopelessly. "I have lost one of my boots. Downing's lips. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. as worms. But. "Yes.. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. of a vivid crimson. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. accordingly. sir. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Mr. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. lines. sir. or else to pull one of them off. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. was taken unawares. leaning back against the next row of desks." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . stiffening like a pointer. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. He said "Yes." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. sir?" said Mike." mechanically. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence.

"It's all rot. "Wal. They played well enough when on the field. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. sir. Mr. His case was complete. it is no joke taking a high catch. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. "I don't intend to stick it. I mean. Rushing about on an empty stomach. however. and all that sort of thing. compared with Mike's. Until the sun has really got to work. consequently. and sped to the headmaster.returned." said Stone. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired." said Robinson. As a rule. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. and no strain. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. that searching test of cricket keenness. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn." said Stone. In view of the M. Downing feel at that moment." . he gathered up his gown. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life." "I shouldn't wonder. jumping on board. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. completed the chain. and the first American interviewer.C. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. Mike himself. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. which nobody objects to. match on the Wednesday. gnawing his bun. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. said. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. Downing's mind was in a whirl. yawning and heavy-eyed.C. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. in the cool morning air. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. to wit. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. came to a momentous decision. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance." "Personally. Mike's appearance in shoes. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided.

At breakfast that morning thought." And he passed on." he said briskly. The majority. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice." "All right. Taking it all round. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. You two must buck up. the keenness of those under him. Stone was the first to recover. and. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. "He can do what he likes about it. had no information to give. of course." he said. wherever and however made. found himself two short. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. unless he is a man of action. Barnes was among those present. you know."Nor do I. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. Besides. then he finds himself in a difficult position. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. he'd better find somebody else. Stone and Robinson felt secure. leaving the two malcontents speechless. Barnes. but in reality he has only one weapon. either." "Yes. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. Mr. He can't play the M.C." At this moment Adair came into the shop. consequently. Which was not a great help. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. what can he do. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . With the majority. it's such absolute rot. with a scratch team. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. "at six. If he does. Downing." "I don't think he will kick us out." Their position was a strong one. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. are easily handled." said Robinson. after all? Only kick us out of the team.C." "I mean. practically helpless. questioned on the subject. And I don't mind that." "Nor do I. The result of all this was that Adair. and the chance of making runs greater. who his right. as they left the shop. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. You were rotten to-day. "Rather. "Let's.

He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. We didn't give it the chance to. To-day. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience." "Sorry it bored you." he said. . To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold." "It didn't. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. Stone spoke. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. not having seen the paper. "We decided not to." "Oh?" "Yes." Adair's manner became ominously calm. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself." Robinson laughed appreciatively. who. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind." said Stone.daily paper before the bell rang. said nothing. He never shirked anything. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. Many captains might have passed the thing over. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. "We didn't turn up. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. "Sorry. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. however. physical or moral. He resolved to interview the absentees. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. "You were rather fed-up. I suppose?" "That's just the word. "I know you didn't. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. "Hullo. Adair!" "Don't mention it.

I think you are. but we don't care if you do. Nor Robinson?" "No." "Well. with some haste. You won't find me there." said the junior partner in the firm." "That'll be a disappointment. but he said it without any deep conviction. Shall we go on?" ." "What!" "Six sharp. Adair had pushed the table back." said Adair quietly. You must see that you can't do anything. you are now. He was up again in a moment. if you like. "I wasn't ready. Adair. and knocked him down. "Right. Don't be late. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. you're going to to-morrow morning." "You don't think there is? You may be right." Stone intervened. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to." "You can turn out if you feel like it." "That's only your opinion." said Stone. "It's no good making a row about it. I'll give you till five past six. So we're all right." "Good. "There's no joke." "Don't be an ass. as you seem to like lying in bed. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. "I was only thinking of something. We'll play for the school all right." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. All the same. Robinson?" asked Adair. We've told you we aren't going to." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No." said Stone. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. Of course. Adair. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. and was standing in the middle of the open space. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. "You cad. you can kick us out of the team." said Robinson."What's the joke.

He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. He was not altogether a coward.Stone dashed in without a word. and he knew more about the game. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone." said Adair. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs." Stone made no reply. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction." said Adair. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago." said Adair. But science tells. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "Thanks." said Stone. "You don't happen to know if he's in. "Thanks." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again." "I'll go and see. How about you. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. "All right. "All right. but he was cooler and quicker. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. even in a confined space." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike." he said hastily. I don't know if he's still there. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. "I'll turn up. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going ." "Good.

the fast bowler. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. * * * * * Psmith. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. including Dixon. A broken arm. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room.. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. led by Mike's brother Reggie. If only he could have been there to help. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. He's had a . as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. wrote Strachan. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. Altogether. entered the room. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. that Adair. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. In fact.on below stairs. looking up from his paper. fortunately. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. Since this calamity. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. And it was at this point. was off. which had been ebbing during the past few days. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. was hard lines on Ripton. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. The Ripton match. This was one of them." he said. and went on reading. when his resentment was at its height.C. Mike mourned over his suffering school. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. It might have made all the difference. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. The Incogs. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. everything had gone wrong. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. Psmith was the first to speak.C. returned with a rush. "If you ask my candid opinion. said Strachan. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. In school cricket one good batsman. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. The M. Which. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets.

" said Psmith." . knave. The fact that the M. is waiting there with a sandbag. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. Care to see the paper. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. the Pride of the School. the poacher. It won't take long. Despatch. We would brood. Stone chucked it after the first round." said Mike. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing." said Psmith approvingly. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks." "Fate. Promptitude." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. That is Comrade Jackson.C." said Psmith. go thee. Shakespeare. "Certainly. This is no time for loitering.C. Adair." he said. "I'm not the man I was. too." Psmith turned away. "I'll tell you in a minute. "There are lines on my face. I thought that you and he were like brothers. Leave us. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. but it was pretty lively while it did. Adair was looking for trouble." said Adair. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. We must Do It Now. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. We must hustle. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. "Surely. For some reason. We must be strenuous. sitting before you. I'll none of thee. after a prolonged inspection." said Adair. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. "is right. which might possibly be made dear later. Oh.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. "We weren't exactly idle." he sighed." "That. "has led your footsteps to the right place. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. He could not quite follow what all this was about. We----" "Buck up. I bet Long Jack." Mike got up out of his chair." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. "It didn't last long." said Adair grimly. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school." "What do you want?" said Mike. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. dark circles beneath my eyes. Speed is the key-note of the present age.

turning to Mike. "I am. rather. and Adair looked at Mike." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes." "My eyes. "I'm going to make you. However. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. Adair moved to meet him. Mike looked at Adair.said Adair." "I don't think so." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. "What makes you think I shall play against the M. "are a bit close together." said Psmith from the mantelpiece.?" he asked curiously. to-morrow. "Oh?" said Mike at last. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. You aren't building on it much. "it's too late to alter that now. and I want you to get some practice. so we argued it out. Mike said nothing. turning from the glass. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit.C. I know." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. "So are you.C." added Adair. are you?" said Mike politely. He's going to all right. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass." Mike remained silent. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think." he added philosophically. "I get thinner and thinner." said Psmith regretfully. isn't it?" "Very.C. . after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. stepped between them. and in that second Psmith. So is Robinson." replied Adair with equal courtesy." Mike took another step forward." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. There was an electric silence in the study.C. He said he wouldn't.

against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. In a boxing competition. then. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments." After which. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. one does not dislike one's opponent." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. "will be of three minutes' duration. . as a rule. Smith. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. hates the other. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. Dramatically. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. The latter was a clever boxer. without his guiding hand. producing a watch. one was probably warmly attached to him. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. what would have been. I suppose you must. Time. If Adair had kept away and used his head. It was this that saved Mike. nothing could have prevented him winning." he said. and are consequently brief and furious. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. If you really feel that you want to scrap. Are you ready. with a minute rest in between." he said placidly. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays."Get out of the light. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. only a few yards down the road. "My dear young friends. Directly Psmith called "time." said Mike. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. however much one may want to win. In a fight each party. where you can scrap all night if you want to. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. Up to the moment when "time" was called. I lodge a protest. a mere unscientific scramble. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. "The rounds. But school fights. On the present occasion. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate.

he knew. after all. He got up slowly and with difficulty. The Irish blood in him. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. Mike Jackson. At the same time. He went in at Mike with both hands. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. Mike could not see this. as anybody looking on would have seen. In the excitement of a fight--which is." said Psmith. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. The feat presented that interesting person. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. "Brief. I think. if I were you." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams.As it was. thirty seconds from the start. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. There was a swift exchange of blows. We may take that. the deliverer of knock-out blows. Mike had the greater strength. that there was something to be said for his point of view. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. If it's going to be continued in our next. "_He's_ all right. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. that Adair was done. He rose full of fight. Psmith saw. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. which would do him no earthly good. now rendered him reckless. so he hit out with all his strength. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist." "Is he hurt much. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. but Jackson. do you think?" asked Mike. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. I shouldn't stop. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. This finished Adair's chances. coming forward. was strange to him. "but exciting. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. I'll look after him." said Psmith. however. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. the cricketer. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. . He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. he threw away his advantages. and then Adair went down in a heap. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. but with all the science knocked out of him. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. You go away and pick flowers. and he was all but knocked out. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. and. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. Then he lurched forward at Mike. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. Jackson.

" he said. He's not a bad cove. As a start. to return to the point under discussion. However.The fight. "It wouldn't be a bad idea." said Mike. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. in fact. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. Jones. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more.C. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. but every one to his taste. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. when Psmith entered the study. why not?" . "How's Adair?" asked Mike. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. He had come to this conclusion. My eloquence convinced him. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt.' game." continued Psmith. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. to a certain extent. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. There was a pause. before.C. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity." said Mike indignantly. It shook him up. We have been chatting. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. not afraid of work. "Sha'n't play." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. You didn't. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. after much earnest thought. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. and drained the bad blood out of him. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. Where. It revolutionised Mike's view of things." "He's all right. Psmith straightened his tie. "Look here. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. It's not a bad idea in its way. if possible. had the result which most fights have. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. of course?" "Of course not. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it.

breathing on a coat-button." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock." said Psmith. I turn out to-morrow." said Psmith. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted." "You wrong me. But when the cricket season came. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. but it was not to be. You said you only liked watching it. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. However----" ." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system." "No. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered." said Psmith. I did think. when I came here. but it was useless. "If your trouble is. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. "You're what? You?" "I. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. Smith. What Comrade Outwood will say. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. Comrade Jackson. I fought against it." "Quite right. I do. that I had found a haven of rest. I hate to think. but look here."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. Last year. where was I? Gone. _I_ am playing. and polishing it with his handkerchief. And in time the thing becomes a habit. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. and drifted with the stream." "----Dismiss it. and after a while I gave up the struggle. little by little. bar rotting." "You're rotting." Mike stared. "my secret sorrow.

broke in earnest. A moment later there was a continuous patter. it went. but he read Psmith's mind now.C." he said to himself. Adair won't be there himself." "Not a bad scheme. and here was Psmith. You won't have to. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. "if you're playing. wavering on the point of playing for the school. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. Here was he." he said. Psmith whimsically. the recalcitrant. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. He's not playing against the M. It's nothing bad. I'll go round. If Psmith. He was not by nature intuitive. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance.C. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. "At this rate. Downing's and going to Adair's study. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn." "I say. Close the door gently after you. Mike turned up his coat-collar. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. And they had both worked it off. Anyhow. I don't know. "there won't be a match at all . I'll play. but useless to anybody who values life." "That's all right. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match." On arriving at Mr. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. He's sprained his wrist. I'll write a note to Adair now. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. "By Jove." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. and ran back to Outwood's. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. which had been gathering all day. Then in a flash Mike understood. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. Since the term began. therefore. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. But.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. A spot of rain fell on his hand. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide. as the storm. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do.

"Right ho!" said Adair. These moments are always difficult. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. So do I." "I often do cut it rather fine." "Beastly." " yes. . Adair fished out his watch. Might be three. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. "About nine to. to show what it can do in another direction." "Yes." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. it does the thing thoroughly. I should think. crawl miserably about the field in couples. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen." "So do I. though. isn't it?" said Mike." "Beastly nuisance when one does." Another silence." "Yes. with discoloured buckskin boots." "Oh. and then the rain began again. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness." * * * * * When the weather decides. Mike." "Yes. met Adair at Downing's gate. if one didn't hurry." "I hate having to hurry over to school. after behaving well for some weeks. while figures in mackintoshes. "It's only about ten to. They walked on in silence. damp and depressed. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. Three if one didn't hurry. We've got plenty of time. in the gentle. shouldn't you?" "Not much more.

" Silence again. that's all right. "Five to." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. no. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully.." "Oh.." "Rummy." "Yes."Beastly day." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year." "I bet you anything you like you would." "Good." . I say. no. It looks pretty bad. I should think he'd be a hot bowler. "awfully sorry about your wrist. thanks.. rot." "Oh. scowling at his toes.." "We've heaps of time.. thanks awfully for saying you'd play." "Oh. rather not. rot." "I bet you I shouldn't." said Mike. It was only right at the end. "Rotten. just before the match.. we ought to have a jolly good season. Adair produced his watch once more." "Yes. You'd have smashed me anyhow. no. Jolly hard luck." "Oh. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. that's all right. doesn't it?" "Rotten. with his height." "Oh." "What's the time?" asked Mike.. I say." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself. Less." said Adair. "I say." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. Smith turning out to be a cricketer... probably. It was my fault. "I don't know.

he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. after the way you've sweated." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. no. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. It was only for a bit. He eluded the pitfall. even if he had. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh." "Of course not. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. I know. and come to a small school like this. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. really." "No." "Oh. "I say. I wouldn't have done it. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. Everybody's as keen as blazes. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have." "No." "He never even asked me to get him a place. Mike. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. I know." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. that's all right." "It was rotten enough. on the Chinese principle. "Yes. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team." Adair shuffled awkwardly. So they ought to be."Yes. for the second time in two days." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith. no. rotten little hole. fortunately. isn't it?" or words to that effect. as it were: for now. not playing myself." "I didn't want to play myself. . Smith told me you couldn't have done. heaps. "What rot!" he said." "Of course. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say.

" Mike stopped." "What! They wouldn't play us. There's quite decent batting all the way through." . As for the schools. we've got a jolly hot lot. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. because I'm certain. You'd better get changed. We've got math. then. lot a really good hammering. so I don't see anything of him all day. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. and it would be rather rot playing it without you." "I don't know that so much. Downing or a black-beetle.C. we'd walk into them. We sha'n't get a game to-day. with a grin. I must have looked rotten. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. who doesn't count. now that you and Smith are turning out. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. They began to laugh. I never thought of it before.C. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. when you get to know him. anyhow. there's the bell." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. of anything like it. As you're crocked."I've always been fairly keen on the place. I don't know which I'd least soon be." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. which won't hurt me. till the interval. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. "_You_ were all right. Hullo. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present." he said. "By jove. I'm not sure that I care much. "I can't have done. I've never had the gloves on in my life. They'd simply laugh at you. they're worse. I wish we could play. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. at the interval. with you and Smith. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. My jaw still aches. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. and the bowling isn't so bad. If only we could have given this M." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. You see. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record." "All right. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. We'd better be moving on." said Mike. Dash this rain." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. I got about half a pint down my neck just then." said Adair. "if that's any comfort to you. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. and really." "It might clear before eleven. and hang about in case.

I had a letter from Strachan. after hanging about dismally. After which the M. had not confided in him. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. You come and have a shot. Mike and Psmith. If he wants you to stop to tea. if you like." Mike changed quickly." said Psmith. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. 'Psmith is baffled. it seemed. "this incessant demand for you. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. approaching Adair. Mike. M. For the moment I am baffled. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. match was accordingly scratched. At least. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. wandering back to the house." said Psmith.C. and would be glad if Mike would step across. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh."Yes. they would. To which Adair." he said at last. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. without looking up. he worked at it both in and out of school. edge away. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. "A nuisance. "By Jove. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper.C. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return.C. regretfully agreed. So they've got a vacant date. with a message that Mr. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. leaving Psmith. The two teams. And they aren't strong this year.'" . saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. the captain. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. yesterday. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. was agitated.C. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. We'll smash them. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. and the first Sedleigh _v_. I'm pretty sure they would. and went off. captain. Mr. That's the worst of being popular. The messenger did not know. Downing. Meanwhile. The whisper flies round the clubs.

he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. I believe he's off his nut. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened. "Which it was. he's been crawling about. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. . "My dear man. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. "No." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. The thing's a stand-off. you know all about that." said Mike warmly. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. by the way?" asked Psmith." said Mike shortly." "I know." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots." "_Did_ you. pretty nearly." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. "Me." "Evidence!" said Mike. But. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. Give you a nice start in life. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. dash it."The man's an absolute drivelling ass. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. "I didn't. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. As far as I can see." said Psmith." "He thinks I did it. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. He as good as asked me to.

and reach up the chimney. Be a man." he said mournfully. right in the cart. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. and it's nowhere about. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. meaning to save you unpleasantness. you were with him when he came and looked for them. and is hiding it somewhere. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. and glared at it. 'tis not blood. but one's being soled." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather.Why." said Psmith. sickening thud." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. kneeling beside the fender and groping. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. so he thinks it's me. with a dull. it was like this. That's how he spotted me." said Psmith. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. "It _is_. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. In my simple zeal. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER." "It is true. "your boot. Psmith listened attentively. It must have been the paint-pot." said Mike. It is red paint. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. Get it over. if any. "Comrade Jackson." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. But what makes him think that the boot. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it." "I don't know what the game is. . Of course I've got two pairs." said Psmith. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. "Say on!" "Well." Psmith sighed. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps." "Yes. I have landed you. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone.

" "_He'll_ want you to confess. Masters are all whales on confession. and the chap who painted Sammy. by any chance. and he said very well." "Probably. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. that he is now on the war-path. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. they're bound to guess why. in connection with this painful affair. I suppose not. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me." said Mike. you can't prove an alibi." "What exactly. I take it. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. inspecting it with disfavour. I hope you'll be able to think of something. This needs thought. I _am_ in the cart." "Well." . "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. then. and forgot all about it? No? No. so to speak. too. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers."This. If I can't produce this boot. too. then. So. or some rot. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. Downing chased me that night." "Sufficient." said Psmith. are the same. taking it all round. in a moment of absent-mindedness. "quite sufficient." Psmith pondered." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. that was about all." "Possibly. I say. when Mike had finished. he must take steps. and--well. you see." he said. and I said I didn't care." asked Psmith. and try to get something out of me. The worst of it is. was it?" "Yes. You had better put the case in my hands. collecting a gang. "It _is_ a tightish place. I hadn't painted his bally dog." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. You never know." "I suppose not. You see." he admitted. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. which was me. I can't. That was why I rang the alarm bell. "Not for a pretty considerable time. I shall get landed both ways. I will think over the matter.

There was a tap at the door." "I told you so. "They now knock before entering. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith." said Mike to Psmith. I say." The emissary departed." he added. he allowed Mike to go on his way." said Mr. "Well. Jackson. "Is Mr. at the same dignified rate of progress. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner." A small boy. and. Downing shortly. Downing. Smith. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. "that Mr. heaved himself up again. "See how we have trained them. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. . "Just you keep on saying you're all right. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. who had just been told it was like his impudence. Simply stick to stout denial. You can't beat it." said Psmith. "Tell Willie. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. Jackson will be with him in a moment." He turned to the small boy. He had not been gone two minutes. sir. Downing which hung on the wall. answered the invitation." "Ha!" said Mr." suggested Psmith. He was examining a portrait of Mr. Thence. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. "Tell him to write. passed away. Don't go in for any airy explanations. wrapped in thought. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. when the housemaster came in. caught sight of him." said Psmith." he said." said Psmith. it seemed. "_You're_ all right. who had leaned back in his chair. Come in. "Don't go." said Psmith encouragingly. Psmith stood by politely till the postman." With which expert advice. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. The postman was at the door when he got there. and requested to wait. when Psmith. "All this is very trying. He was. sir. Stout denial is the thing." Mike got up. "An excellent likeness. "Oh.

" said Psmith. and the headmaster. Mr. "No. it was not Jackson. "but----" "Not at all. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. Masters. who committed the--who painted my dog. as he sat and looked at Mike. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. The headmaster was just saying. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. unsupported by any weighty evidence. sir. A voice without said. As it happened." said Mr. Jackson." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. He could not believe it. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. Downing to see you. As for Psmith . Smith. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. Downing. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation."I did it. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. especially if you really are innocent. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. "I would not have interrupted you. "Mr. The atmosphere was heavy. sir. It was a boy in the same house. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. would have thought it funny at first. do not realise this. After the first surprise. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. Downing had laid before him. but boys nearly always do. but anybody. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. felt awkward." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. Downing. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. except possibly the owner of the dog. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. It was a kid's trick. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. what it got was the dramatic interruption. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. "I do not think you fully realise. as a rule.

Mr. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. "May I go. what did you wish to say. or even thankful. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. when again there was a knock." said Mr. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. sir. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. Mike felt. as if he had been running. certainly. Downing was saying. and er--. Well. "Yes. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge. "Come in." "No." said the Head. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. hardly listening to what Mr. It was Adair. "Smith!" said the headmaster." he said. So Mr. sir. Downing. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. no. looking at Mr. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. "Ah. who was nodding from time to time. Jackson. "Adair!" . This was bound to mean the sack. Adair." "Yes. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. we know--. sir. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. sir?" he said." He had reached the door. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. sir. "It was about Sammy--Sampson.having done it." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. with calm triumph. "Oh. Downing leaped in his chair." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. Downing. if you are going back to your house. Mike simply did not believe it. If Psmith had painted Sammy. tell Smith that I should like to see him. Downing----" "It was Dunster." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. Mr. if possible. Adair." said the headmaster. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. He sat there. "Certainly.

in the words of an American author. he remembered dizzily. But that Adair should inform him." "_Laughed!_" Mr. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. sir. of all people? Dunster. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. should be innocent. but not particularly startling. He rolled about. sir. And why. Downing at once. perhaps. He has left the school. too." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. It was a ." said the headmaster. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. Downing." "Smith told you?" said Mr. I'd better tell Mr. Downing snorted. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. was guiltless. for a rag--for a joke. that Psmith. sir. the dog. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. two minutes after Mr. sir. sir." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. His brain was swimming. and that. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. sir. Downing had gone over to see you." "I see. Well." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. Then I met Smith outside the house. "Yes. Downing.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. sir. was curious. despite the evidence against him. who. if Dunster had really painted the dog. but he wasn't in the house." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. sir. That Mike. had played a mean trick on him. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. "But Adair. I tried to find Mr. Why Dunster. sir." Mr. Downing's voice was thunderous. "Yes. and he told me that Mr. He stopped the night in the village. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. "Adair!" "Yes. had left the school at Christmas.

A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window.foolish." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. Outwood's house. Smith." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. sir. the silence was quite solid. while it lasted. sir?" "Sit down. I suppose. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. sir. He arrived soon after Mr. sir." he observed. but. . Ask him to step up. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. though sure of his welcome." he said. Barlow. He was cheerful. The door was opened. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. sir." "H'm." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. Smith. as the butler appeared. Adair. Smith is waiting in the hall. saying that he would wait. discreditable thing to have done. pressing a bell. but slightly deprecating." "Yes." "If you please. sir." said the headmaster." said Mr. "You wished to see me. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. Nobody seemed to have anything to say." "In the hall!" "Yes. "It is still raining." "Thank you. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. It was not long." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. Downing. Barlow." said Mr. Downing. sir. He gave the impression of one who. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. "I shall write to him. "Mr. If he did not do it. Mr. "kindly go across to Mr." said the headmaster." "The sergeant." "Another freak of Dunster's. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs.

" "Yes. do you remember ever having had. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted." proceeded Psmith placidly. He paused again. "Er--Smith." he replied sadly. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. sir. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. Jackson. "Er--Smith. when a murder has been committed. sir.Mr." He made a motion towards the door. sir. "Smith. but have you--er. sir. I do not for a moment wish to pain you." ." "But. "The craze for notoriety. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. "how frequently. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. Then he went on. let us say. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. "I should like to see you alone for a moment." "What!" cried the headmaster. Smith--" began the headmaster. there was silence. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No." he said. "It is remarkable. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. Mr. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. When he and Psmith were alone. "The curse of the present age. as a child." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. Downing burst out. "Smith. "Smith." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so.

. Good-night. That was the whole thing. "Good-night." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. it was like this. and then I tore myself away." said Psmith cheerfully. "You _are_ the limit. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. of sometimes apt to forget. as he walked downstairs. "By no means a bad old sort. at last. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. then. You are a curious boy. We had a very pleasant chat. tell nobody. Smith. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion." There was a pause. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled." said Psmith meditatively to himself. We later." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door." "Well. This is strictly between ourselves. "Not a bad old sort." .. For the moment. sir. "What's he done?" "Nothing. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. "Well. the proper relations boy and--Well. but he said nothing." said Psmith. sir. sir. You think. sir. Smith. let me hear what you wish to course." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. "It was a very wrong thing to do." said Adair. Smith.." said Psmith. of course.. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. quite so. sir----" Privately. "Well?" said Mike." said the headmaster hurriedly.. "but."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list." He held out his hand. sir. if you do not wish it." said the headmaster. Of course. Smith. "Of course. I shall. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further.. Downing's dog. never mind that for the present.

and Wrykyn." said he. "And it was jolly good of you. you're a marvel. for it was a one day match. They walked on towards the houses." Psmith's expression was one of pain. too." said Mike." said Psmith. when you see him. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day." said Mike suddenly. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. I hope the dickens they'll do it." "What's that?" asked Psmith. chuck it. "you wrong me. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. "Good-night. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. Adair." "And give Comrade Downing. and that Sedleigh had lost." "Well." said Mike. "my very best love." said Adair." said Adair." "Oh. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. who had led on the first innings. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. all the same. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. I should think they're certain to. Psmith thanked him courteously." Psmith moaned." "Well. I'm surprised at you. "By the way. Psmith. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. I believe you did. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. You make me writhe. "My dear Comrade Jackson. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. In a way one might have said that the game was over. "They've got a vacant date." said Mike obstinately." * * * * * "I say. There is a certain type of .

whatever might happen to the others. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. declined to hit out at anything. July the twentieth. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Stone. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. and he had fallen after hitting one four.C. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. Psmith. Whereas Wrykyn. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. from time immemorial. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. Experience counts enormously in school batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. Sedleigh had never been proved. He had an enormous reach. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength.C. with his score at thirty-five. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. that Wrykyn were weak this season. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. and the others. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. Unless the first pair make a really good start. had played inside one from Bruce. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. It was useless for Adair to tell them. but were not comforted. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. a collapse almost invariably ensues. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. several of them. Wrykyn had then gone in. Sedleigh. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. and he used it. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. It was likely to get worse during the day. the Wrykyn slow bowler. and. Mike. as he did repeatedly. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. and Mike. assisted by Barnes. The team listened. and . Adair did not suffer from panic. as a rule. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. Robinson. and were clean bowled. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. and from whom. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. the bulwark of the side. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. He had had no choice but to take first innings. with Barnes not out sixteen. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. so Adair had chosen to bat first. crawled to the wickets. playing back to half-volleys. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. with the exception of Adair. for seventy-nine. The weather had been bad for the last week. on Mike's authority. but then Wrykyn cricket. Ten minutes later the innings was over. the team had been all on the jump. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. this in itself was a calamity.

And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. The deficit had been wiped off. when Psmith was bowled. which was Psmith's. skied one to Strachan at cover. with an hour all but five minutes to go. who had just reached his fifty. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. They were playing all the good balls. and the collapse ceased. but it was a comfort. as they were crossing over. and after him Robinson and the rest. and he was convinced that. his slows playing havoc with the tail. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. Adair declared the innings closed. helped by the wicket. And when Stone came in. restored to his proper frame of mind. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. who had taken six wickets. all but a dozen runs. they felt. the next pair. two runs later. Seventeen for three. if they could knock Bruce off. and refused to hit at the bad. And when. having another knock. As Mike reached the pavilion. The time was twenty-five past five. especially Psmith. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. Psmith got the next man stumped. at any rate. A quarter past six struck. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. He treated all the bowlers alike. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. had never been easy. It doesn't help my . The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. their nervousness had vanished. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. And they had hit. Changes of bowling had been tried. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. and lashed out stoutly. As is usual at this stage of a match. But Adair and Psmith. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. and which he hit into the pavilion. Adair bowled him. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. was getting too dangerous. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. So Drummond and Rigby. at fifteen. proceeded to play with caution. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. But.

leg-breaks a bit. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. "he was going about in a sort of trance. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. They can get on fixtures with decent . After that the thing was a walk-over. As a matter of fact." "Yes. collapsed uncompromisingly. and five wickets were down. Adair's a jolly good sort. "I say." said Psmith. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. Wrykyn will swamp them. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. There were twenty-five minutes to go. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. and the tail. Five minutes before. the great thing. got to it as he was falling." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. Sedleigh was on top again. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. and chucked it up. Still. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. "I feel like a beastly renegade. you see. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. diving to the right. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler." "I suppose they will. "Still. hitting out." "He bowled awfully well. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. was a shade too soon. and Mike. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. is to get the thing started." said Mike. playing against Wrykyn. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. That's what Adair was so keen on. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. because they won't hit at them. I'm glad we won. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. Incidentally. he's satisfied. and it'll make him happy for weeks. discussing things in general and the game in particular." "When I last saw Comrade Adair." said Psmith. when Adair took the ball from him. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. I shall have left. Adair will have left. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. The batsman. demoralised by the sudden change in the game.

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